Youth come together to help family of Boy Scout injured in tornado
By KARA KOCZUR, Globe staff reporter
June 26, 2008
Members of Boy Scout Troop 225 and the youth group from Immaculate Conception
and Nativity Parishes in Sioux City gathered June 20 to help their friend Thomas
Auen, 14, was one of the Boy Scouts injured June 11 in the tornado at the
Little Sioux Scout Camp near Blencoe. The youth gave up their Friday night to
clean up the yard and build a wheelchair ramp for Auen, who underwent hip
surgery June 17 in Minneapolis.
"It's what he'd do for me," said Thomas Thramp, 11, who had been
weeding a garden. "It's just being a good friend."
Thramp, a parishioner at St. Michael's in South Sioux City, is a member of
Auen's Boy Scout troop. He is just glad that Auen is okay, he said.
"My family really prayed the first time we heard it, it was scary,"
he said. "If I was in a tornado like that, I don't know what I'd do."
Milling about the yard were Boy Scouts dressed in red shirts. A couple boys
asked for trash bags to place pulled weeds in, while another pushed a lawn
mower. Men wearing tool belts made measurements for the ramp and carried lumber.
Sam Hacker, the youth minister of "To Heaven's End Youth Group"
from Immaculate Conception and Nativity, organized the evening.
"Last weekend I was thinking, 'What can we do to help this family
out?'" she said.
After talking with Auen's parents, it was decided that cleaning the yard and
building a ramp were two things the family were in need of, Hacker said.
The ramp will be a blessing for the family, as Auen won't be able to walk for
three to six months, Hacker said.
Hacker called up Auen's troop leader and one of her youth group members, Tony
Hackett, to get the ball rolling. Hackett then made some calls to his friends,
who are also in the youth group.
"I knew if they weren't doing anything, they'd help out because we're
really good friends with Thomas," said Hackett, 14, who also went to school
with Auen at Mater Dei.
The night of the tornado Hackett was at a baseball game with friends. When he
heard that Auen was injured, Hackett called him on his cell phone to let him
know that they were praying for him, he said.
"He's someone you could always look up to," Hackett said of his
Hacker was happy to see so many young people step forward to help.
"There were no questions asked," she said. "That's how these
While Hackett and the other boys had to leave the ramp building to adults
because of regulations, they were still able to mow the lawn, sweep leaves off
the deck, weed gardens and plant flowers. Although they weren't huge tasks,
Hackett believes it's still helpful.
"When he comes back it won't be a hassle for his parents to work
on," he said.
Not only will it not be a hassle, but it will be a shock and surprise for
Auen's family, said Tim Riedy, a Boy Scout and member of Immaculate Conception,
where Auen also attends. Auen was expected to have a 10-day stay in the Twin
"They're going to be so happy when they see [the flowers]," said
Riedy, 11, who was helping plant red geraniums.
One boy who spent part of the evening weeding was Rob Agnes, one of Auen's
fellow Boy Scouts. Agnes, 11, has been in Boy Scouts with Auen for four years,
but has known him longer because his dad and older brother were also involved in
Boy Scouts, he said.
"He's just a guy that comes up to you if you need help - a leader,"
said Agnes, who belongs to Nativity.
The boys haven't been the only ones to step forward and help the Auens
family. People have also volunteered to make meals and freeze them for the
family, Hacker said.
Hacker was proud of the youth, and said the work that evening was an
important project for young people.
"We try to teach our young people that we're all one family in
Christ," she said. "This is one way for them to live it."