In memory of Ryan
Troop to complete Eagle Scout project
By Greg Seubert
It’s a way to put musical instruments in the hands of kids.
It’s also a way to honor a late friend.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 621 gathered April 5 at the Howard Quimby Scout House in Weyauwega to present Ryan Ames’ parents and brother with the Spirit of the Eagle Award.
Ryan, a 16-year-old Weyauwega-Fremont High School junior, took his life in December 2020. At the time, he was working on his Eagle Scout project. Although he never completed the project, the troop will work together to make their friend’s vision a reality.
“His goal was to either get enough instruments donated or raise money for some gently used instruments for the school to keep on hand for families that couldn’t afford to rent or buy,” troop leader De Anna Volz said. “He was very passionate about band.”
Ryan and his family moved to the Weyauwega area from Maine in 2014 and it did not take him long to make his mark.
“He played five instruments,” said his father, Bruce. “We got him a saxophone because that’s what he said he wanted to play. He bought himself a flugelhorn. Mr. (Andrew) Schmidt, the band director, was his favorite teacher and band was probably his favorite of all the things he did. Band and Scouts.”
“He started with the saxophone,” said Ryan’s mother, Bambi. “He had just started working on the drums and wanted to play piano. One of his thoughts was he wanted to be a band teacher or possibly a neurosurgeon. He loved Mr. Schmidt. They had a really good bond. Anything that Mr. Schmidt asked him to do, Ryan was right there ready to do it.”
Volz has talked to Schmidt about the possibility of making instruments available to more students.
“I called Heid Music and a few other places, so we’re just waiting to see,” she said. “They’re were hoping to donate some gently used instruments or if not, give us a good deal. I know several families with children that wanted to be in band, but the parents just couldn’t swing the monthly payments to rent.”
Bambi said Ryan enjoyed Scouting and band and came up with the idea for his Eagle Scout project on his own.
“He originally started thinking about maybe renovating a park, but he said, ‘Mom, that’s something that everybody does,’” she said. “He just loved band so much. He said, ‘You know what? I want to give back to band.’ He combined both of them and it seemed like the perfect project for him to do.
“He started the Eagle Scout paperwork and thought about some of the planning for the fundraisers,” she said. “He was going to do some dinners and things like that. He was going to put ads on craigslist and in newspapers because a lot of times, people have instruments and they’re collecting dust. He thought if anyone wanted to donate them, they could do that.”
Bruce, Bambi and Ryan’s older brother, Kevin, had dealt with Ryan’s depression issues for years, according to Bruce.
“He had a lot of friends and was very outgoing, but unfortunately, we couldn’t get enough help for him,” he said.
That didn’t keep Ryan from having an impact on Troop 621.
“I was a Scout and his older brother was in Scouting,” Bruce said. “He loved being with the other kids. He started with the Cub Scouts in Maine and really liked doing everything.”
“We all took it pretty hard and some of us are still having some issues,” Volz said. “We decided to give it a week and came back. I contacted the Bay Lakes Council, they sent people and we had a cry-out session.”
The Ames family is in the process of moving back to Maine, where Bruce has a new job lined up.
“We’re still not through it,” he said. “Every day’s a struggle, but we’re trying to stay busy.”
“It’s been hard because we’re trying to work on moving,” Bambi said. “We’ve had a lot of support from people just checking in. We had people bringing us food for the first couple of weeks.”
Although Ryan’s family will leave Weyauwega soon, they know their son and brother won’t be forgotten. A plaque with his name now hangs in the scout house under the troop’s Eagle Scouts.
“I think it’s great and I’m looking forward to helping them anyway I can,” Bambi said. “It’s something near and dear to our heart and I think Ryan would really be amazed at the love and support he’s gotten from the troop.
“He loved Scouting and he loved everybody here,” she added. “It’s like a little family. He’d be really proud to know that they were doing this in honor of him.”