Service project for The Rathbun Center close to home.
Despite life challenging obstacles, 17-year-old Ryan Bennett is working hard each day to achieve his dreams. After many years of hard work and dedication in the Boy Scouts, Bennett, then 16, earned the rank of Eagle Scout during the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout Program.
Not only did Bennett achieve his dream of becoming an Eagle Scout, he used the opportunity of completing an Eagle Scout Service Project to give back to an organization that made his dreams possible.
When Bennett was born, he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that can affect the lungs and/or digestive system. Because of Bennett's diagnosis, when he was born he had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mission Hospital in Asheville. While Bennett was in the NICU, the Rathbun Center was available for his family to offer a place for them to stay so they could be close to Bennett while he received treatment. His family stayed at the Rathbun Center's hospitality room for 47 days while Bennett received the life changing treatment that got him strong enough to survive on his own. Because of the opportunity provided to his family more than a decade ago, Bennett decided to show his appreciation through his service project by building a much needed maintenance shed for the center.
The Rathbun Center is a non-profit corporation that provides lodging and other supportive services in a "home like" environment, free of charge, for patients and/or their caregivers coming into Asheville for medical treatment.
“The Rathbun Center in Asheville allowed my parents and older brother to stay in the hospitality house so they could be close to me while I was in the NICU,” said Bennett. “That is why I chose to help the Rathbun Center when it came time to select my Eagle Scout Service Project. I wanted to give back to someone that had helped my family be close to me and take care of me. I feel that it is important to give back to the community and to help people when they need help. The Rathbun Center helps a lot of families stay close to loved ones while they are in the hospital.”
“When it was time for Ryan to choose an Eagle Scout project, he chose The Rathbun Center,” said Caryl Dean, house director for The Rathbun Center. “After meeting with me and our maintenance coordinator about what was needed the most, building of a storage shed was decided upon.
For 12 months Ryan designed a storage shed and raised funds to purchase materials for the 8 X 12 project and collected $1,760. $1,297.23 was used to purchase materials for the shed and $462.77 will be donated to The Rathbun Center for much needed supplies. In addition to the design and implementation Ryan recruited and organized 15 others for assistance that totaled 84 hours.”
Despite battling an ongoing illness, Bennett worked hard to complete the shed for the center. In between spending 45 minutes to an hour twice a day doing treatments for his health condition, and trips to Chapel Hill every three months for check-ups with Dr. George Retschbogart, Bennett found time to organize and complete the project.
“This shed was much needed to store supplies and equipment to maintain our 30,000 square feet building and 17 acres of land. This shed will allow us to store garden and landscaping equipment in an organized, safe manner,” said Dean. “We know that this project was designed and built with love and care and it has a special meaning to Ryan and to his family and all of the people that he touched as he raised funds for the project. We thank him for the generosity and caring that he showed while completing this project. We are very proud and amazed of the impact that one passionate person can make!”
Bennett refuses to let his illness hold him back and each day he fights to live for himself and others. In addition to being an Eagle Scout, Bennett enjoys running and fishing. “Over the summer he got up between 5 and 6 a.m. so he could do his treatments and then go running,” said his mother, Kathy. “Ryan really likes to run. Twice this summer he has run in two races in one day. On July 4, he ran in a 5K that morning and then competed in another 5K that afternoon. On Aug. 24, he competed in a 5K that morning and then that afternoon ran an 8K. Even though he is on the Cross Country Team at Swain, he likes to search for other races in the area to compete in on the weekends. He recently competed in his first 15K (9.3 miles) and finished second in his age group.”
According to his mother, Bennett commits to anywhere from 50-75 hours of volunteer work each year just to give back to his community. He volunteers with his church and with 4-H as well as with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through the Great Strides Walk.