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Caped Crusader

Each month, Central Penn Parent features a child who is doing great things. They pitch in to make a difference in their schools, places of worship and throughout their communities. They are a blessing to those around them—yet their efforts often go unrecognized. We want to thank them for a job well done! Each child receives a cape and a prize package from our sponsors.

It can be hard to stand out when you’re one of eight children.

It can be even harder when you’re the second youngest and your siblings have already done wonderful things for their community.

Yet Ben Byler, a 16-year-old from Harrisburg, is encouraged by his older siblings’ example, and he’s determined to be a light to his community all on his own.

This spring Ben ran a Teens for Jeans campaign with his school, the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School, and collected more than 100 pairs of jeans for impoverished teenagers. Because it’s a charter school, Ben’s classmates are from all over the state, so they were able to set up bins to collect jeans from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between.

The jeans are then given to Aeropostale to distribute to those in need.

“I love helping others in need,” Ben said. He’s also gone on a mission trip to Panama, as well as visited China twice through an exchange program.

His parents know there’s something more driving his desire to help others.

“Jesus is the biggest factor,” his mom Elizabeth Byler said. “Ben has this desire to live out his faith.”

His siblings also have the desire to help others, and Elizabeth said their faith is also the reason.

Four of the eight children are adopted, so they’re all close in age. Some of his oldest siblings have gone on to do mission’s work all over the world.

“They’ve seen real need,” Dean Byler, Ben’s father, said. “They’ve been very up close with true need. They’re all about taking advantage of their situation to help others.”

“My siblings inspire me to do my best at everything,” Ben said. “I want to match them in serving others and what they’re doing—in a playful way of course.”

Ben’s path has led him to PALCS, where he’s served in the student government. It was the leadership aspect of the school that attracted him to it in the first place, and he’s continued to grow as a student and a leader over the years there.

“Ben has been an outstanding student in my leadership program,” said Pat Parris, student government advisor and teacher at PALCS. “It definitely is a huge draw to have someone out there to set the pace.”

Parris has known some of Ben’s other siblings and said they’re simply a great and selfless family.

In his free time, Ben also enjoys music and the arts. He can play multiple instruments, and he hopes to do something with music after high school.

But not right away.

Ben is now a junior at PALCS, and after graduating Ben wants to participate in Discipleship Training Schools with Youth with a Mission in Nürnberg, Germany. The religious program is for students with an interest in the arts to come together to advance their skills and spread the Gospel through the arts. After training in Germany for three months, students travel to developing nations around the world.

Kurt Bopp is assistant editor/web at Central Penn Parent and based in Mechanicsburg. He's the proud parent of a mischievous cat.

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