News: Indy student motivates peers for troop care packages
Story by Staff Sgt. Les Newport
INDIANAPOLIS — A theme emerged during a gathering of 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team soldiers and a group of some of their strongest supporters in their local community known as the Guardian Angels of Hill Crest Country Club.
To be sure there is plenty angelic about the group, but most would say guardian is the more accurate “nom de guerre.”
Diane Spaulding is the chief Guardian Angel and the walls of the Hill Crest are a testament to their work. Letters of appreciation and other military tokens of thanks decorate the walls. Many come from Fort Hood units, a relationship that began some years ago when a club member’s son was stationed there.
The theme of the day was simple: “That’s just what Riley Boyle does.”
Riley Boyle is a seventh-grader at St. Simon School in Oaklandon, Ind., and a juggernaut when it comes to supporting the troops. As General Washington had Lafayette, Spaulding has Riley.
“Whatever it is we need done, he does it” said Spaulding.
Spaulding said the Guardian Angels began a partnership with St. Simon School some years ago to collect donations to send in care packages. The students also decorate cards, bags and boxes for the donations. When shipping costs began to rise, the school used blue jeans days to raise funds for that.
Spaulding learned she could count on Mike and Becky Boyle’s shy son always working quietly behind the scenes.
Schools, churches and nonprofit organizations across the country have similar stories. If tolled, there is undoubtedly a division, maybe 10, of Riley Boyles working to send something of home to the troops. Any deployed postal unit could attest to that.
But Riley’s story goes a little further. Last year he was diagnosed with a serious illness, one that landed him in Riley’s Children Hospital in Indianapolis. Everyone thought Riley’s efforts to support the troops would have to wait, everyone except for Riley, and perhaps Spaulding. She wasn’t surprised when Riley told her he wanted to soldier on while he was in the hospital.
Riley began collecting donations from the staff and parents of other patients. He continued to decorate packages to send and focused as much on his troops overseas as he did on his own welfare.
Riley has had a break from the hospital but will return next month. Before he continues his own personal battle, the 76th wanted to show their gratitude and support for their biggest backer at a reception for him. When they arrived, they did so in an Armored Security Vehicle and a Humvee. Riley learned what it was like to sit at the wheel of the famous American fighting vehicles and man the turrets.
Indiana National Guard Lt. Col. Jeff Hackett presented Riley with the Indiana Commendation Medal and a Minute Man statue from Maj. Gen. Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana Guard.
“When we speak of Army values, I think of Riley Boyle,” said Hackett. “We wanted to let him know how much we appreciate him and his mission. His selfless service epitomizes what being a soldier is all about.”
Hackett also made Riley an honorary Nighthawk, the name 76th Brigade soldiers carry into battle. Riley accepted the honors with his quiet smile and promised to keep working hard to support the troops. He also has a new project.
“Some of the kids at the hospital don’t get to see many people very often,” said Riley. “So I’m going to get the soldiers of the 76th to visit them. They’ll like that.”
Because that’s just what Riley Boyle does.