Once a heroin addict living on the wrong side of the law, Karl Winsness has turned his life around. Now he wants to help vulnerable children do the same thing.
When Winsness's home was raided by the police in 1988, he shot at one of the officers entering his home without realizing who it was. The mistake landed him in Utah State Prison for 17 years, and he had a lot of time to reflect on his life behind bars.
While he was in jail, Winsness - who goes by "Willy" - watched his daughters struggle financially and emotionally. He calls his innocent girls the "victims of his bad choices," and it made him realize how many other children across Utah were also paying for their parents' mistakes.
“The children of inmates are the forgotten victims of crime, and it really bothered me," he told People. “Their dad or mom isn’t there to help with homework, to buy their first car or anything else. With the family income cut in half, these kids have a difficult road.”
When he finally got out of jail in 2004, Winsness got a job as a plumber and moved on with his life. But he kept thinking about how he could help children like his own. The unlikely idea he finally settled on has changed lives ever since.
It's called the Willy the Plumber Scholarship, and it's a college fund unlike any other.