Iowans remembered a young man from north-central Iowa Wednesday with the 2nd annual Aaron Eilerts Day of Service and Giving. Across the state, school children and others took part in service projects to honor the boy scout who died – along with three other scouts – in a tornado that struck a boy scout camp in western Iowa two years ago. A ceremony in Eilerts’ hometown of Eagle Grove featured several speakers, including fellow boy scout Thomas Auen of Sioux City.
“He always smiled and always had a joke to make the day easier to handle,” Auen said of Eilerts. “He really made an impression on myself and the way I look at life each and every day.” Auen was at the Little Sioux Boy Scout Camp on the night of the tragedy two years ago. He says Eilerts improved the lives of everyone he met.
“I’m almost certain it’s what he wanted to do most…just change people and their outlooks from the pessimistic to the optimistic, so we could all continue on with a smile on our face and laughter in our hearts,” Auen said. Aaron’s mother, Carol Eilerts, thanked everyone for remembering her son on what would have been his 16th birthday.
“It is a day that is very difficult for us,” Eilerts said. “But being able to be here with you and seeing the caring and compassion of everyone is like someone taking our hands and leading us out of the storm and back to the rainbow. Thank you for that. Happy 16th birthday, Aaron.” The three other boy scouts killed in the June 2008 tornado were from Omaha.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City