Boy takes on challenging Eagle Project
By John Faucher
Storm Handrich’s ‘Make a Wish’ dream for an elaborate outdoor playhouse at age 7 has grown into a wish that others too will soon enjoy.
Handrich, now 15, is turning his wish from eight years ago into his Eagle Scout project for visitors at Mosquito Hill Nature Center.
In 2007, Storm was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor.
The tumor was growing fast and doctors at the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago knew they had to operate.
The risks were high. He could lose his sight, ability to talk, mobility, or even die. “It was a big magnitude,” said his mother Jessi Handrich.
Storm was young enough at the time he does not remember all the details from his hundreds of doctor visits, several stays in the hospital and two surgeries. Storm mostly remembers the Make-A-Wish Foundation granting his wish for a pirate tree house.
The energetic boy always loved the outdoors and playing in parks.
“When we started traveling for different doctors, we sometimes would have multiple appointments throughout the day, so we would stop and spend time at various parks in between appointments. Going to parks was a big thing for him,” Jessi Handrich said.
Storm’s love for parks continues today.
Last October Storm was at Mosquito Hill Nature Center where he picked up a book of Mosquito Hill’s future dreams. In it were goals for a future playground. The elements of the playground included a tree house.
That is when Storm thought about the tree house in his own back yard. The base for Storm’s tree house is a 3,000-pound hollowed out redwood log with a door and steps climbing up the middle.
“I thought this would be a great idea for them at Mosquito Hill,” Handrich said.
He was trying to think of something for his Eagle Project at the time.
“I wanted to do a project that would be meaningful. At first, I wanted to build a bridge at Pfeifer Park over the river to the dog park, but that would have been too costly and hard to do by myself,” Handrich said.
When he saw the wish list for Mosquito Hill, his wheels began turning.
He took pictures of the tree house to the nature center and spoke with several staff. They also went to Storms house and looked at the playhouse in person.
“It will need a little fixing, but they both thought it would be perfect for their future playground,” Handrich said.
He then began planning his Eagle Project around the idea.
“I’ve always loved the challenges throughout scouting, and now I’m at the biggest challenge of my scouting career, moving my Eagle Project,” said Handrich. He is a member of Boy Scouts Troop 59.
He said moving the playhouse to Mosquito Hill Nature Center and setting it back up again will take some heavy equipment, trailers, and building expertise. Handrich is trying to put the word out to area builders, concrete workers, landscapers and heavy equipment operators who might be willing to assist.
He also plans to raise money for the rest of the playground through the Friends of Mosquito Hill Nature Center.
“I’ve outgrown my tree house. Now I just want other kids to enjoy it,” said Handrich.
Anything raised above and beyond what is needed for the playground will be donated to Friends of Mosquito Hill.
For more information, contact Storm Handrich at 920-538-1688.