A 17-year-old Seymour youth’s drive to obtain Boy Scout’s top rank this year is driven by several factors including a promise he made to his grandfather when he was still a Cub Scout.

Riley Bartells’ deal with his father also requires him to earn the rank of Eagle before he can get his license, a car and a lot more.

But for Bartells, becoming an Eagle Scout is most important because it requires him to come up with a project that gives something back to the place he calls home.

A recent strings of disasters including a mass shooting on Oct. 1 that led to the deaths of 58 people in Las Vegas and three hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, sparked an idea, Bartells said.

All of those incidents led to a major need for blood and lots of it, he said.

“ … and during the holidays there’s also an extreme need for blood,” he said.

So on Thursday, Bartells organized a blood drive at Trinity Lutheran High School, where he is a junior.

The goal was to find 30 people willing to show up for a chance to donate.

Bartells, a member Troop 526 at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, planned to be one on the 30 and so did his dad, Bruce Bartells.

“I’m only doing this for you because I hate needles and hot water,” Bruce Bartells told his son shortly before donating. “I think it’s great because across the United States and Indiana, we are out of blood. It all went to Florida and it all went to Houston.”

At least one of Bartells’ classmates, Trinity senior Avery Schwipps also decided to give blood to help out Riley’s cause.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Schwipps said. “It helps save lives for people who need blood.”

Bartells said it took quite awhile to pull the blood drive together, in part because several other ideas he had for his Eagle project didn’t work out because of timing and other issues. All Eagle projects require a community service component.

Once it looked like the blood drive would work, Bartells said he had to contact the Indiana Blood Center to lineup a date for the drive and then make sure that date would be OK at Trinity.

He then had to complete all the necessary paperwork and obtained approval for the project from the troop’s committee. Now that the project has been completed Riley has to go back in front of that committee to give a report as part of the effort to obtain the rank of Eagle.

To line up potential donors, Riley distributed information about the blood drive at school and through churches.

On the day of the drive, he was responsible for clearing out the common room at the school. He did so with the help of classmates and teachers and he then helped the blood center workers whenever they needed something.

Bartells who started scouting as a Cub Scout, said obtaining the rank of Eagle will help him keep a promise he made to his late grandfather early on when he was about six or seven.

“None of his own kids would join scouting,” Bartells said. “So I said I would.”

Bruce Bartells said he always knew his son would earned rank of Eagle because he has a lot riding on it.

“The deal was if he doesn’t get his Eagle rank he doesn’t get his driver’s license, he doesn’t get a car,” Bruce said.

Dale Siekfer, who is a member of the troop’s committee and the executive committee of Hoosier Trails Council of Boy Scouts of America, was present during the drive to lend support to Riley Bartells as needed.

“There’s been a few scouts do blood drives before,” Siefker said.

Only four percent of youth who belong to Boys Scouts ever earns the rank of Eagle, Siefker said. Locally three or four Boy Scouts did so each year.

Obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout can open doors for scouts as they leave high school and go on to college or learn a trade. That includes the possibility of scholarships.

Bartells said he plans to pursue a degree in business with the idea of attending Indiana Unversity-Purdue University at Indianapolis or Ivy Tech Community College.

“I want to get into real estate marketing,” he said.

There are presently Boy Scout troops in Jackson County although there have been more in the past. They are Troop 529 and Troop 526 in Seymour, Troop 510 in Brownstown and Troop 522 in Crothersville.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.