Impact / Holcomb Youth Hero Award

Boy Scout Troop 170 awarded Holcomb Youth Hero Award for courageous action on hiking trip

In August 2017, in the mountainous terrain of the Goat Rocks Wilderness in southwest Washington, eight Boy Scouts and two adult trip leaders were three days into a six-day, fifty-mile backpacking trip when Pat O’Malley, a parent leader on the trip, was injured, suffering a broken bone. The boys, aged 12 through 15, fashioned crutches for O’Malley, and sent one group ahead to find additional help. They located Packwood Lake hydroelectric workers who retrieved a boat and an ATV to transport O’Malley to safety. Requiring two days of effort and a great amount of ingenuity, the Boy Scouts, with the assistance of their remaining trip leader left the area to transport O’Malley to a local hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

In October, the Benton Community Foundation presented the eight members of Boy Scout Troop 170 with the Holcomb Youth Hero Award. The award, which had not been presented since 2008, came with a $15,000 donation to Boy Scout Troop 170. Each Scout also received a medallion, and the troop name will be inscribed onto the Holcomb Youth Hero statue that stands in front of the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis.

The Scouts receiving the award are Aaron Bailey, Blake Byer, Cade Byer, Lane Byer, Jack David, Zach Leskovec, Jack O’Malley, and Jack Stevenson.

“We are very excited to present this award and are proud of these young men and what they have accomplished in the course of their service,” stated Chris Quaka, CEO of the Benton Community Foundation. “This award reminds us of the opportunity we all have to make a positive impact on our community and the people within it.”

Bob and Billie Holcomb created the Youth Hero Award in 1997, for youth aged eight to eighteen who demonstrated exceptional acts of courage, bravery, and/or altruism by their personal actions. Longtime residents of Corvallis, Billie and the late Bob Holcomb were leaders in local community organizations including Rotary, Elks, the Benton Community Foundation, and many others. As part of their community philanthropy they created the Bob and Billie Holcomb Youth Hall of Fame Award Fund, which provides monetary gifts for the Youth Hero Award, as well as the Youth of the Year award presented by the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis each year.

“I think the boys really pulled together and put their skills to use in a stressful situation,” said Hector Rodriguez, Scout 170 Troop Leader. “Their resilience in the face of adversity helped Pat get back safely and enabled a good outcome in what could have been a life threatening situation.”