Businesses raise money for ailing shoeshine man known for 'huge smile'


Gene Wiley would greet everyone who walked by with his "infectious smile, positive attitude and joking nature," a GoFundMe page says.

And now that he's been away from his post at the shoe shine stand inside the Hamm Building for nearly two weeks, those who work in the building are missing their friend and his "huge smile".

Wiley – known as "The Ambassador to the Hamm Building" – has been shining shoes in the downtown St. Paul building for over a decade, becoming someone who helped brighten the day of everyone who worked there.

Geno, as he is affectionately known, has been hospitalized since June 17 after suffering a series of strokes, the Pioneer Press reports.

"It's tough now that he's in the hospital, how quiet it is in the hallway. ... The whole demeanor has changed. That happy vibe just isn't here," Sean O'Bryne, the owner of Great Waters Brewing Company, told the Pioneer Press.

O'Bryne, who snuck in to see Wiley, 71, at the hospital, told the newspaper hospital workers have had to kick out the numerous visitors because they're not relatives.

And now tenants of the Hamm Building are hoping to help out their "dear friend." They set up a GoFundMe page to help Wiley with his medical expenses, as well as making sure his apartment and his bird are taken care of while he's in the hospital, the page notes.

"We walk down the path of life and certain people enter our lives for a reason. Geno is one of those people who is a kind and caring person. Please help us, help our friend," the GoFundMe page says.

The page has a goal of $100,000 – as of Tuesday afternoon, it had raised $2,235 in four days.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 3.17.49 PM

No KAT? No D'Lo? No problem as Timberwolves defeat Pelicans

The Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, but still picked up a (SCORE) win.

Screen Shot 2021-01-23 at 7.53.44 PM

Spinouts, crashes across Twin Cities as snow gets heavier

There have been multiple incidents across the metro area.

Mason Branstrator

Family, friends raising funds for teen soccer standout with spinal injury

Mason Branstrator of Duluth was injured in a skiing accident.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Tributes pour in after MN Supreme Court justice's daughter found dead

Olivia Chutich died near the campus of Iowa State University.

Image from iOS (96)

Early Saturday fire damages Burger King in Richfield

The fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. Saturday.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. / Gopher Basketball

Maryland hands Gophers first home loss of season

The 17th-ranked Gophers fell to the Terrapins 63-49 on Saturday afternoon.

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville.

Minnesota Department of Health files lawsuit against Alibi Drinkery

The Lakeville bar has been in the news for defying orders.

Iron Tap snowmobile delivery

This MN restaurant will deliver to your ice house... on a snowmobile

Just in case you work up an appetite fishing on Lake Waconia.

Klobuchar and Trump

Klobuchar reacts to report Trump plotted against his attorney general

The NYT story alleges further tactics to overturn the election.