Scott Lamaster, an area nonprofit founder and a Greenwood alderman, was rushed to the hospital last month after receiving second- to third-degree burns from a propane gas grill while he was preparing meals for the homeless.
Lamaster was injured after his commercial grill trailer “blew up” on Dec. 2 as the founder of Taking it to the Streets was preparing chicken on the grill for another night of feeding homeless people in Jackson County as part of the nonprofit’s homeless outreach program.
“It didn’t look like I had a lot of flame going, so I took my lighter down and was going to try to get it to go, and it just went kaboom,” Lamaster said. “It blew me back about six feet and spun me and threw me into our box truck and smashed my ribs into it.”
After the accident, family members started a GoFundMe page Dec. 3 in an effort to help with Lamaster’s medical bills. It raised more than $20,000 within a month.
At the time, family said on the GoFundMe page that they weren’t sure of the extent of the 58-year-old’s injuries, but by the end of December, Lamaster was back on his feet.
Lamaster said in a recent interview that recovery has been going “phenomenally well.” He was released from the hospital six days after the accident and is back at home in Greenwood.
He was rushed to Research Medical Center in Kansas City for treatment after the explosion. Lamaster said doctors have been amazed at how quickly the burns healed, including burns on his face.
“I just contributed it to the Lord just touching and healing me, because my face was fried,” Lamaster said. “Skin was just peeling all off of it and my hair was singed back. ... It’s amazing; it’s totally incredible.”
Now, Lamaster said he still experiences some pain in his ribs and had trouble sleeping at night for a while, but he’s “coming back strong.”
Unfortunately, the accident has taken time away from Lamaster’s year-end fundraising for the nonprofit, but the family said on its GoFundMe page that any amount raised above and beyond Lamaster’s personal medical costs will go toward Taking it to the Streets.
In addition, Lamaster says the nonprofit plans to get a new grill trailer to replace the one from the accident.
“I’m very grateful for all of those who have stood with me through this time, prayed for me, encouraged me, sent me letters, texts, cards,” he said. “I’m very thankful to all my friends and those who don’t even know me. ... It was really nice for all the people who stood with me, supported, helped, prayed.”
The nonprofit CEO also added that he’s gained “a new message of hope” from the accident.
“Through this I learned that we all suffer pain, we all suffer heartache, we all suffer loss, and as we work with a lot of homeless people who have deep hurt in their life and they use a lot of substance abuse or military people or veterans we deal with, we all suffer pain and we handle that in different ways,” Lamaster said. “But I learned that there’s no drug strong enough, there’s no drink stiff enough that can take the pain we all suffer — whether it’s physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain, whatever pain it might be. ... The only thing that can do that is having your faith in the Lord, and that’s what I realized.”
Aside from its homeless outreach program, Taking it to the Streets also brings aid to police, firefighters, and EMS — any time a first responder is on scene for an extended period of time.
For example, Lamaster pulled his emergency response trailer into rural Cass County last April after two sets of human remains were found in a wooded area off of Missouri Y and East 233rd Street.
The remains were later identified as two missing Cass County women — Jessica Runions, 21, and Kara Kopetsky, 17. Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies spent nearly a week looking for bones and recovering any evidence from the scene.
In September, the nonprofit’s team went to Houston with the Kansas Swift Water Rescue Team to aid first responders there after Hurricane Harvey with drinks and snacks.
While the accident took Lamaster off the streets for a little while, the nonprofit founder received some good news while he was in the hospital.
The Kansas City Division of the FBI presented Lamaster with the 2017 Director’s Community Leadership Award for his work with Taking it to the Streets. The award is given each year to organizations and individuals selected by their area FBI office for contributing to their communities through service work.
Lamaster said he will be attending a ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C. in April 2018 to receive the award.