Huntington GO Supports
1st Lt. James Byler
James Byler once walked the same halls they do today. He interacted with the same teachers, sat in the same classrooms and played on the same fields and courts. He was and always will be one of them.
The 2003 alum will always be a member of the Huntington High School family, so when Mr. Byler was injured by a bomb blast while serving as a First Lieutenant with the US Marines in Afghanistan, current Huntington students mobilized to help.
Huntington's General Organization, the formal name given to the school's student council, raised $2,000 to help defray costs associated with renovations to make Mr. Byler's home more accessible as he adapts to life without both legs and the pinky fingers on each hand.
Phil Byler, the Huntington grad's dad, came to Huntington High School last week to accept a check from GO President Alexandra Kiley and Vice-President Richard Gray. The funds will help make the Byler home, located not far from the high school, wheelchair accessible.
"We were able to give Mr. Byler this money through our ongoing fundraiser 'Bracelets for Byler,'" Ms. Kiley said. A summer carnival scheduled for the last week of classes this month was also expected to raise significant monies for the Byler initiative, but oppressive heat forced cancellation of the event.
The bracelets, which were sold for $3 each, became popular items. "We solicited to our fellow students and soon it seemed like every kid in the school had one," Ms. Kiley said. "Parents were always willing to donate a few extra dollars when we sold at school functions like concerts and Huntington Idol. We were also really successful reaching out to the community. Personally, I sold a bunch to my family and neighbors."
Junior Brielle Blatt and senior Shayne Larkin, two GO officers, were especially creative. The pair sold bracelets outside of Starbucks in Huntington village "and made over $200 alone singing the National Anthem for people and getting enthusiastic," Ms. Kiley said.
After receiving his high school diploma, Mr. Byler went on to earn an undergraduate degree at Purdue University in Indiana. Following his injury, the 25-year old was awarded the Purple Heart medal. He has appeared at a number of community events, including Memorial Day observances. He has spent time recovering and undergoing physical and occupational therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.
"It felt great donating to someone who is not only a hero, but a Huntington native," Ms. Kiley said.