The leaves and dirt crunched underneath the footsteps of the scout troop. The trees towered above them as a group of young boys made their way through the Appalachian Trail. Following their trusted leader, although he always took the last position while hiking to make sure everyone was accounted for, the journey ahead of them was tiring but worth it. When phones still had a cord and video had yet to kill the radio star, their leader, Bryan Staley used only a map, the trail guide, and his intuition as his guide through the wilderness. Gregory Hall, a member of the troop, went to the same church as Bryan and looked up to him as a father figure in his life.
Gregory and Bryan’s bond grew over the years as they hiked five hundred miles over several expeditions and spent time in the wilderness together. Gregory grew up without a dad, so Bryan became the strong and wise father figure Gregory had always wanted. On one specific camping trip, the Scout Troop on a cold winter night had settled into their tents with snow and ice on the hard ground. Bryan noticed that Gregory was getting hypothermia while asleep in his sleeping bag.
Gregory recalls that, “Bryan helped wake me up and he had made a fire for me. He had already put the fire out and everything for the night, so he remade the fire at around 2 or 3 AM. He warmed me by the fire, so I kind of came to and I was kind of halfway in a dream state hallucinating from hypothermia. He saved my life on that camping trip.”
Years went by, and Gregory grew up and moved from his birthplace of North Carolina to Houston. In June of 2022, Gregory was invited by a friend from his church to join a running club of his. For Gregory, it was an instant love for the running community and the sport, bringing back memories of both running and his early hiking experiences with his Scoutmaster. Around the same time, Gregory learned that Bryan had been diagnosed with ALS. After visiting Bryan in August, Gregory knew that he was going to support Bryan by raising money and participating in the Houston Marathon Run for a Reason. Gregory has currently raised over $2,600 to support ALS research in Bryan’s honor.
Bryan has touched the lives of many men, such as Gregory. Bryan has won multiple awards for his leadership and time that he has spent with the Boy Scouts, even dedicating a scout hut and park area in his honor. Because of how many lives he has touched, Gregory’s fellow scouts from the past have been supportive for Bryan, his wife Margaret and his family while he is living with ALS.
“I didn’t think about it at the time, but I really credit him for a lot of things that have helped me in my life,” Gregory said. “It’s not just me, he’s been a powerful example and leader in his church and in the scouting community. So, I want to recognize and applaud the great legacy he has carved.”