Friday, November 30, 2012

Teen with Down Syndrome Becomes Eagle Scout Years Before Most

Lincoln-Way East High School sophomore Adam Sekula, 16, recently received his Eagle Scout status—two years before most scouts achieve the honor. 
Adam’s achievements are particularly impressive considering he earned his Eagle Scout rank under distinct circumstances: Adam has Down syndrome.
“He is just focused and determined,” said Adam’s mother, Marlene.
According to the Boy Scouts of America, only 5 percent of the nearly 850,000 Boy Scouts across the nation earned the prestigious Eagle Scout rank last year.
Adam began scouting in first grade as a Tiger Cub and he hasn’t stopped since. In 2008, he earned the Cub Scout Arrow of Light Award and was declared Outstanding Cub Scout of the Year in his troop.
Over the years, Adam’s scoutmasters have made only one modification to accommodate his Down syndrome, allowing him to meet a swimming requirement with a kickboard while other scouts swam unaided.
Adam then met the requirement without the kickboard just a few weeks after his swimming evaluation.
Marlene said Adam has been fortunate to have patient and understanding scoutmasters. Rich McCully, Adam’s current scoutmaster, said working with a scout who has Down syndrome does create some challenges regarding communication, but those never keep Adam from getting the job done.
“He’s very able to stay on task,” McCully said. “When he gets locked on to something, that’s what he thinks about.”
Marlene partially credits Adam’s scoutmasters, for pushing Adam, and helping him grow as a scout.
“They made him do the work,” she said. “He didn’t just get passed off on it because he had Down syndrome.”
To gain Eagle Scout status, Adam worked his way up through the seven ranks of scouting. Aspiring Eagle Scouts are required to hold a leadership position in their troop, perform community service work and consistently attend meetings.
Potential Eagle Scouts must also earn 12 required merit badges, as well as a minimum of nine additional badges.
Adam recently earned his 64th badge and holds the record for most badges earned in Frankfort Square Boy Scout Troop 237.
“I like the merit badges,” Adam said.
For his Eagle Scout Project, Adam coordinated the brick installation surrounding an outdoor altar at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Mokena.
He selected and ordered the materials, organized delivery and construction and coordinated volunteers. The project required 44 volunteers and 225 man-hours.
Adam began work on the project in February and completed the installation during Memorial Day weekend.
“He really did a great job,” said Bob Cupp, Adam’s project coach. “Adam is very determined.”
Adam officially became an Eagle Scout at a ceremony on Aug. 9. He now participates in Troop 237 as a junior assistant scoutmaster. After he turns 18, Adam will be eligible to become an assistant scoutmaster.

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