June 25, 2008 · Updated 1:44 PM
"Bruce Hymas wears a smile as he leans against his blue pickup truck, a familiar sight on South Whidbey.Matt Johnson, staff photoBiographyAmmon Bruce HymasBorn July 15, 1982 in Washington StateFamily: Parents Lance and Kari Hymas; brother Cory; sisters Leann and Malaena.Years on Whidbey: 17Education: Graduating senior at South Whidbey High SchoolHobbies and interests: Building inventions, running, mountain biking, wakeboarding, skim boarding, snowboarding, metalworking, woodworking, making funny videos with friends.Community and school involvement: Cross country, track, wrestling, church Quorum president, Bishop's assistant, Scouts, Eagle Scout, Big Brothers/Big Sisters.Recognition: many sports awards; Most Spirited and Most Inspirational student, SWHS; Homecoming Prince, academic award, honor roll.Jobs: Self-employed landscape maintenance for 6 years; building maintenance for Island Athletic Club and Camano Center.Ever begin to say or do something kind, then don't follow through because your thoughts drift back toward yourself, and you think you might look awkward?Ever want to join in some fun activity, but don't only because you may look dumb? Or join in an activity you know is wrong, but you don't want to appear uncool?What if our focus were outward, thinking of doing kindness not of how we may look. What if we stayed true to our own values, not deterred by our own embarrassment?Hometown Hero Bruce Hymas, a graduating senior at South Whidbey High School, concentrates his thoughts on helping others. He knows what's right and wrong for himself, and doesn't stray from his standards.Bruce is exactly who and what he appears to be, a fun loving, genuinely selfless, moral, kind and caring young man, said Polly Hogue. He looks for ways to help people.Hogue says Hymas goes out of his way to make others feel comfortable, even at the risk of his own uneasiness.When we first moved here and my son didn't know anyone, it was Bruce who noticed my son alone at the school commons, Hogue said. He went up to my son, introduced himself and had him join him and his friends.Hymas is the kind of guy people gravitate toward, a real leader, a joyful Samaritan, a young man who lives his faith and values, Hogue said.Joe Candelario had a similar school experience with Hymas.It was my first day at school after just moving here, Candelario remembered. I walked into the crowded, noisy lunchroom not knowing anyone, when I heard a friendly voice bellow out, 'Hey, come on over here, sit with us.'That was nice, Candelario said. He took the time to notice me. The two have been friends and sports buddies ever since.He's so special, said Denise Perkins. When he's running in track or participating in any sport he's not there just to win, but to help out. Even when he comes from his own race dead tired, he goes out to congratulate or encourage others.Perkins said Hymas is never afraid to do something nice. This Mother's Day, for example, he gave me a beautiful card and gift.Fellow SWHS senior Braden Giswold says Hymas is never one to look for publicity.He's who he is because he has a big heart. He's someone who lives his faith, he's never preachy. He's our team captain in sports, and he's a Mormon, so we all jokingly call him 'Captain Mormon.'So what does a guy like Hymas do for fun besides sports?Well, it doesn't have anything to do with smoking, drinking or taking drugs, he said. I've never actually even touched the stuff. It's not for me.What he does like is to have fun with friends. For example, he likes playing capture the flag with his youth group.Some hang back because they say it's dumb, Hymas said. I tell them 'Whatever, we're here to have fun, join us.'He also enjoy an activity he calls snipin'. In fact, if you look in the back of his car you'll find a box of ever ready snipin' costumes.He and his friends drive to Seattle, dressed up in silly weird clothes, with voices primed by a megaphone and backed by some goofy music. Then they begin snipin'. They go about town, driving and walking, being friendly, asking people How's your day going?I think we really lighten up some people's day, Hymas said. They start laughing and having fun with us, or maybe at us. It's nice to see people smile, because that's what snipin' is all about.Sports is really high on Hymas' list of activities.I even played basketball in my freshman year, he said. When I tell people that, they always start laughing, they think I'm joking. They laugh and say, 'What? No way. You're too short,' ending with some more laughter.Hymas responds, Yeah, I'm short. But actually I'm just halfway between my mom who is 5 feet tall and my dad who is 6 feet.Clearly Hymas accepts himself just the way he is. Although, he said with a laugh, Sometimes in track I think near the finish line, some long legs would be nice here.Hymas' laughter is not the nervous kind. It's one of genuine contentment and happiness. In fact, it's so welcoming and friendly, his eyes even grin, and you can't help smiling along.Thinking about his height, Hymas remarks, Why try to be anything we're not, especially if we can't do anything about it. Take my SAT scores.He explained that he had a near perfect college application packet: An A-minus GPA, a huge list of extracurricular and community volunteer activities; excellent job references and recommendation letters; and various awards. All that was left was to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test.My first time taking it, I got a horrible scores, below average, Hymas said. So he studied and took the test again, again getting a low scores. He studied more and took the test a third time.After that score came out the same again, I told myself, OK, you did your best, this is your score, Hymas said. A lot of colleges turned him down based on his low score, he said.But he has accepted the outcome gracefully, and is excited to do his best at the college that did accept him. He works long hours, saving for college.My parents said they'd help me, but I told them 'Thank you, but if I pay for it myself, I'll appreciate it more, and it'll feel good, too.'Don Mergens calls Hymas an amazing young man, self-motivated, sincere and consistently following through.He sets a sterling example for the youth of our community, choosing excellence and high moral standards, Mergens said. Bruce's warm, ready smile make his caring and acceptance obvious to us all of us.Brett Perkins, another SWHS senior, agrees that Hymas is inspirational to them all.Even though he's the smallest of the 'Killer Bs' (the three sports buddies Braden, Brett and Bruce), he has the most sting when it comes to sports, and he's the most fun, most dedicated to his faith and community. He's a hero to a lot of us, and always will be to me.Adults look up to Hymas as well, said Tim Gordon, vice principal of Langley Middle School.Bruce is one of the few people whom I have ever tried to emulate, Gordon said. He is a centered young man, who demonstrates a level of decency and leadership that is as refreshing as it is rare. At the same time, Gordon said, Hymas has a great sense of humor, and is not above a good gross-out. No student-athlete has taught me more about competition and life, he said.Gordon tells the story of the cross-country season this year, in which the SWHS team was favored to win the state championship but came up short -- barely.We tied for the league championship and lost on the 'sixth-man' tie-breaker. The next week we tied for the district championship and lost on the 'sixth man' tiebreaker. Then we tied for the state championship and -- you guessed it -- lost on the sixth-man tiebreaker.Bruce had to be as disappointed as anyone. So what did he do? He led the team onto the award stand for our second place award, and then led the team down toward the winning team, into a handshake line with them. It hit me then, as hokey as this sounds, that Bruce has a serenity about him that is just remarkable. He taught me that if we do the best we can, we can accept the results of our actions, even if they are not what we want, and be all right.If I could give people one bit of advice about Bruce it would be to simply get to know him. He could restore your faith in youth and humanity. "