Eli Skrypczak, a fifteen-year-old sophomore at Appleton North High School, is a pretty typical teenage kid. He enjoys sports, video games, scouts, biking, hanging out with his friends, going to the movies, and bossing his little brother around. Despite his tendency to be goofy with his peers, he still maintains good grades, runs a positive program for his scout troop, and is excelling as a multi-sport student athlete. As a starting Middle Linebacker for the JV Appleton North Lighting football team (who recently received his varsity jersey), Eli gets up most mornings before sunrise to work out, lift, and review game film before school. He is a leader both on and off the athletic field. Eli’s six month term as the Senior Patrol Leader of his Boy Scout Troop ended September 25th and he is on track to earn his Eagle Scout this Spring. 

Eli was nominated for the 2022 Star of Life award by Gold Cross Ambulance Service in Menasha, WI.

While being involved in scouting since First Grade, Eli has always been one of the first kids to step up to assist others whenever he realized they needed help.  Eli certainly lived up to that reputation in the immediate aftermath of the June 27th Amtrak train derailment in Mendon, MO. Witnesses and first responders have reported that Eli, and his fellow scouts lived the values of the Scout Oath and Law by providing aid to the injured, calm direction to the panicked, and comfort to the dying. Todd Covington, a Battalion Chief from Kansas City who was a passenger on the train, credited these scouts with saving dozens of lives.

According to multiple witness statements, Eli and Mason, another 2022 Star of Life recipient, were both instrumental in organizing and leading the efforts of their fellow scouts. While all of the boys acted heroically, the actions of Eli and Mason stood out to many of the Amtrak crew and local first responders as truly extraordinary considering their young ages and the trauma they witnessed.

Even after most of their fellow scouts had been evacuated to the staging area at the local school, Eli, Mason, and three other scouts stayed on the scene assisting emergency response personnel until the last victims were off the train. These five boys, led by Eli and Mason, ran dozens of trips between emergency vehicles and victims; retrieving backboards, C-collars, web strapping, extraction tools, torches, and whatever else EMTs, Paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and the other  first responders asked them to fetch — thereby allowing these professionals to continue to focus on stabilizing the most severely injured and managing the scene. These boys are resistant to being labeled “heroes” because they acted out of instinct and a hope that others would’ve done the same for them.

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