First Citizen nominee John Budiao: A 'remarkable individual'
In a scene from "Facing the Giants," a football coach instructs a pessimistic player to perform a death crawl — carrying a teammate on your back while crawling — for 50 yards. With a little motivation from the coach, the player travels the full length of the field.
John Budiao views the scene as emblematic of one of his core tenants: with effort and encouragement, an individual can achieve beyond their expectations. And through his work as a coach, Scout leader and mentor, Budiao tries to help the youth of Wilsonville do exactly that.
"For me, growing up in a small town, I was the oldest of three and only had a mom. I would always look to someone who would inspire me: a teacher, coach, someone who would take an interest in me," Budiao said. "On the other side as an adult, I look for opportunities to help."
For his efforts, the Rotary Club of Wilsonville named Budiao a finalist for the First Citizen Award, given annually to an exemplary member of the Wilsonville community. Donna Atkinson, Scott Nichols and Curt Kipp are also finalists and the winner will be chosen during the Stars of Giving: The 2019 Heart of Gold Dinner and Auction Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Wilsonville Holiday Inn.
Budiao is now a three-time finalist. Doris Wehler nominated him this year.
"John Budiao is one of the most remarkable individuals I've met in my 50 years of living in Wilsonville. He is friendly and warm, extremely intelligent and accomplished, but most of all has a giving heart. John is an exemplary family man, a 24-year highly decorated veteran, and an outstanding community volunteer," Wehler said. "He is a huge advocate for youth, having served as Boy Scout troop scoutmaster and Wilsonville youth sports coach for a number of years."
Budiao said he's most proud of his work as a troopmaster for Wilsonville Troop 194. For the troop, he has guided Scouts on their journey to Eagle Scout rank, which requires many years of Scouting, holding leadership positions, volunteering, completing a final project and being accepted by a tribunal, among other tasks. To Budiao, Scouting gives young minds the discipline and focus necessary to work toward a long-term goal.
"When they come in at 10 (years old) I ask them 'What are your college ambitions?'" he said. "Most of the time they say they hadn't thought about it. It's planting the seed that you need to overcome hurdles to get to college and (you must) plan for your future."
Budiao's favorite merit badge to teach is wilderness survival, where Scouts sleep in the outdoors, build a shelter, start a fire and learn to be self-sufficient.
"I like that one because it takes scouts outside of their comfort zone and teaches them that things are always possible," Budiao said. "They are amazed at what their bodies can accomplish."
Budiao also recently became the leader of Troop 194's recently inaugurated girls troop.
"These girls, they think they are behind the curb, so they are more motivated to get ranks done," Budiao said. "We've only had 5-6 meetings and they've ranked up already."
Meanwhile, Budiao is in the process of jumpstarting a artisan workshop for veterans, called Operation Spartan Flag. Budiao is an Air Force veteran and a handful of his friends from service committed suicide after returning from duty. And through the workshop, where veterans will carve American flags out of wood, he's hoping to give those potentially dealing with service-related side effects a productive working environment and a chance to connect with other veterans who can relate to their experiences.
Budiao has also been a Wilsonville youth sports coach since 2006 and has coached nearly every sport in the book. He preaches to his players that nothing comes easy, that hard work is the way to set yourself apart and that the difference between winning and losing can often come down to which team is willing to expend the most energy.
"If you want something in life you will eat, sleep and live it," Budiao said.
Similarly to his work with the Scout troop, Budiao looks on with pride when he sees former players blossom into upstanding individuals. And when he watched the Wilsonville High football team's run to the state title game this year, he cheered on a few familiar faces, including starting quarterback Nathan Overholt.
"To see I was a part of that, him (Overholt) playing in those games that brought his family and Wilsonville happiness ... it was quite astounding," Budiao said.
If all of that weren't enough, Budiao also helps an Inza R. Wood Middle School Constitution team formulate and present both sides of an argument and research hot button issues facing the country.
"These eighth-grade students are learning more about their country than most folks learn in their entire lifetime," Budiao said.
Budiao said children look up to him because of his experience traveling the world with the Air Force, his education (he has a master's degree in business), and because he cares.
And when they call on him for help, he said he's always willing to lend a hand.
"I can see it in all of them ... They just need someone to believe in them," Budiao said.