Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kevin Bardsley - 2007 Reader's Digest Hero of the Year

In April of this year over one million Reader’s Digest Readers voted to name Kevin Bardsley the RD 2007 Hero of the Year. Bardsley might have been happier never receiving the nomination. No one wants to lose a child to be called a hero.

But in Bardsley’s case he didn’t win because his son, Garrett, went missing in 2004 from a scout camping trip in Utah. He was nominated for what he did afterward and how he and his family used their grief to help others.

Garrett is still missing after three years. The Bardsleys feel certain he is not coming back and but still compile search information on their website FindGarrett.org. They intend to keep looking until their son’s body is recovered.

Kevin Bardsley wants to save other families from the ordeal of losing a child, focusing on the mountains where Garrett was lost. This area is popular with campers and scout troops like the one Garrett was with when he went missing. Bardsley started a foundation to help find children lost in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. He bought GPS tracking equipment and trained a small army of volunteers to be ready at a moments notice.

Ten months after Garrett’s disappearance, Bardsley got a call. Another scout was missing in an area only 26 miles from where Garrett was last seen. Bardsley dropped everything and headed to the mountains. He met with the parents of Brennan Hawkins, the 11 year old missing boy and joined law enforcement and his volunteers in the search.

He used the knowledge gained from searching for his own son to suggest wide sweep searches and immediate contact with the media. It worked. 3,000 additional volunteers showed up to help and after four days of exhaustive effort, Brennan was found on the other side of the mountain. Instead of going for lower ground to look for a road, as one might expect, he’d headed up the rugged terrain and over the mountain. A searcher on an ATV happened upon him drinking from a stream.

Bardsley’s efforts to help other families would be enough to garner the hero award but he has also used the money from the Garrett Bardsley Foundation to open a school in Garrett’s name in Puca Cruz, Ecuador.

Kevin Bardsley received his award in Washington DC where he said, “I think the most important thing is that we all do good wherever we are for whomever we can.”

He is truly an amazing man who lives by his values and with integrity in spite of the tragedy that struck his family and son. At FindGarrett.org, the Bardsley’s volunteers are always available to look for a missing child in Utah and always on the look out for current information about their son.

10 comments:

Peter said...

There's always the good and bad news mixed with life in general, as in this article. So thanks for the good ending!

Anna said...

Lisa, great post as always. Thanks for sharing this news yet sad of which I was not aware of. Anna :)

Lisa, I have been tagged with 'October is Breast Cancer Awareness', and I am supporting, and I am asking if you could also, however, no pressure.
http://myonlyphoto.blogspot.com/2007/10/pass-penguin-breast-cancer-awareness.html

Lisa McGlaun said...

Peter,

It is a sad story and also an inspiration, I believe. No one should go through the pain of losing a child but to see how a person can rally afterward is comforting to anyone else in the same situation..at least I hope so.

Best Wishes,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Anna,

You're welcome. Thanks for thinking of me with the tag..I'll go check out what is involved.

Peace,
Lisa

Mr. Grudge said...

What a tough, unselfish man to drop the search for his own son to aid in the search for another. As a father, I can understand his anguish with the disappearance of his little boy. But, circumstances define you as a person, and he deserves the award. Though I am certain he just wants his son.

La delirante said...

Hi Lisa, As always, your stories are truly inspirational. It is so refreshing to read about someone who lives by their values.

Have a lovely weekend!

Lisa McGlaun said...

Mr. Grudge,

He is a remarkable man. It was eleven months after Garrett's disappearance that Kevin got the first call to use his team of searchers. Everyone had worked so hard to find Garrett with no results. He didn't want that to happen to another family.

I hope they find Garrett's body. It seems to be so important to the family and I can certainly understand why.

Thank for reading.

Peace,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Wen,

An this would be a tough value to live by..to pull yourself out of your own well of grief to help someone else in the same situation and to be joyous and not resentful when their child is found and yours is dead. It's saintlike, I think.

Hugs,
Lisa

Ellie said...

I helped search for Garret and then traveled to Ecuador with the Bardsley family later that year. Kevin truly is a remarkable man. Though, I think he would be the first to admit that he couldn't have made it through without the support of his wife and family. Their determination not only to overcome this trial in their life but then to turn around and help and serve others is truly inspiring.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Ellie,

Thank you for commenting. The best part of writing this blog is hearing from people who have personal connections with the people and circumstances from the posts.

You are deserving of admiration too for helping in the search for Garret. I wish the search had produced a reunion.

I am most impressed with what the Bardsley family did with their grief. It's an example I hope I always remember.

Best Wishes,
Lisa