Little Sioux Tragedy Leads to Triumph Six Years Later: Family Builds Storm Shelters in Boy Scout's Memory
Fremont (KPTM)- His family is dedicated to honoring his memory by making camp sites safer. "I think we need to. I think we need to do something good. He was good and we need to do something good too," said Arnell Petrzilka, the mother of Ben Petrzilka who was killed when a tornado hit the Little Sioux Boy Scout camp six years ago.He was one of four boy scouts who lost their lives that day. But Ben Petrizilka's family is bound and determined to keep his memory alive by making Little Sioux and other Boy Scout camps safer by building shelters for storms in his memory.He was just thirteen years old. His memory will live on with the building of the shelters, making Boy Scout camps safer than the one he stayed at on his last Boy Scout trip."There has been two built at Little Sioux. And one has been built out here and there are three more going up out here too," said Petrzilka.Construction is underway at Camp Cedars near Fremont. One major shelter is complete. Three more smaller ones are in the early stages of being built.Petrzilka say she wants all Boy Scout camps to have shelters and she will continue to raise money to build them. She said they don't all have to be expensive, but even the smallest camps could find a way to become safer. "Because you can do smaller bunker type shelters. Or you can do above ground FEMA approved shelters. You can do what your camp needs. You just have to focus and get it done. First I want parents when they go to a camp to say what is your shelter procedure? What is your tornado procedure? What is your severe storm procedure? I want the camps to look around and say what can we do to make sure that when kids come here they are safe because when they come here we are taking care of them," said Petrzilka. She has done her part with raising money to build two shelters at Little Sioux and four at Camp Cedars. She will continue building more each year. That's a constant. So is a bitter sweet feeling she gets when she walks through the camps to check on construction. "Coming to the camps makes me feel closer to him. But leaving the camp doesn't. Everybody else gets to go home and take somebody home with them. And I don't. He doesn't come home with us."All the money for the shelters come from fundraisers. Money from last year's golf tournament went to building the three shelters that are under construction at Camp Cedars. This year's golf tournament will take place at Eagle Hills Golf Course in Papillion on Monday, August 25. It's full, but the public is invited to bid on silent auction items. Anyone can donate to the cause on the web site created for Ben Petrzilka's memorial fund, www.benpetrzilkamemorialfoundation.org.
Fox 42 News KPTM provides coverage of local and national news, weather, sports and community events in Omaha, Nebraska and the surrounding area, including Lincoln, Plattsmouth, La Vista, Gretna, Fremont, and Weeping Water, Nebraska and Missouri Valley, Shelby, Atlantic and Mondamin, Iowa.