Parents of Eagle Scout and Olympic gold medalist Ryan Held tell their story

We’ve heard from Ryan Held, the Eagle Scout who won a gold medal at the Rio Olympics and says Scouting gave him a welcome respite from the stress of competitive swimming.

Now we get to hear from his parents, who say both of their Eagle Scout sons are proof that Scouting helps prepare young people for life.

In a video produced by the Springfield, Ill.-based Abraham Lincoln Council, Randy and Cheryl Held tell their story. (See the video at the end of this post.)

Ryan, a star swimmer at North Carolina State University, won gold in the 4×100 freestyle relay on Aug. 7. Ryan’s older brother, Kendall, is a physician.

Cheryl says Scouting made Ryan and Kendall “more confident young men.”

“They’re respectful — and respectful not only of people with different backgrounds but respectful of our nation,” she says.

Randy says the 21 merit badges required to become an Eagle Scout give young men “exposure to things they may not ever see.”

Like the Personal Management merit badge, where they learn to make and stick to a budget. Or the First Aid merit badge, where they learn how to treat an injury. Or the Citizenship in the Community merit badge.

“One of the requirements is go to a town council meeting,” Randy says. “How many kids ever do that?”

Cheryl watched as her two sons became more resourceful young men.

“So many of their really good qualities have been developed through Scouting,” she says.

Ryan started swimming at age 8, but even as swimming became a bigger time commitment, Held stayed in Scouting.

“My parents and my uncle — an Eagle Scout — really pushed me to stay in Scouting and reach for the rank of Eagle, and I’m so glad that they did,” Ryan says.

In Ryan’s story, we see just the latest proof of Scouting and sports living in harmony.

“Ryan is a prime example of you can be a very good athlete — a dedicated athlete — and a Scout at the same time,” Randy says. “They can coexist.”