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Boy Scout Troop 373
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Dallas (Texas) Boy Scouts Honored for Heroism by SHELLY SLATER / WFAA-TV Posted on January 24, 2010 at 10:45 PM ******

RICHARDSON — It's been more than two years since two local Boy Scouts used a combination of common sense and their scout training to save their friend, injured when a model rocket launch went awry. On Sunday night, Chris Rogers and Joshua Raines of Dallas were honored for their quick thinking to save fellow Scout Connor McNeil. "It was a really normal launch," Chris recalled. "It was just a windy day, and the wind caught it and it angled down at Connor." "I just looked up and it impaled me in the chest," Connor said. "At first, I just thought it was on top of his shoulder," Chris said. "It was hot and he was screaming." But it was much more serious than that. "It went through and cracked two ribs and lodged in my lung," Connor said. So Chris Rogers took of his shirt and stuck it around Conner's arm and ran for help. Josh Raines stayed behind, offering pressure and words of encouragement. "I kept applying pressure and telling him, 'It's all right; you're going to be fine; you're going to make it through this,'" Josh recalled. Conner did survive, and on Sunday night, his friends received the Boy Scouts of America Heroism Award for taking action to save a life.

Boy Scout turns 'mud pit' into a $60K playground

KRASNOYARSK, Russia (CNN) -- "It kept you alive," a tearful Dwight Griffith told his adopted son as the two looked at an infant incubator during a tour of the Russian hospital where he was born.

Alex Griffith, 16, raised more than $60,000 for a new playground at the Russian hospital where he was born.

Alex Griffith, 16, raised more than $60,000 for a new playground at the Russian hospital where he was born.

More than a decade after L.S. Berzon City Clinical Hospital No. 20 cared for him, 16-year-old Alex Griffith wanted to show his gratitude.

"Russia is part of me and this hospital is part of me. They gave me life, so I [wanted] to give back to them, to give them a fun place to play," said Alex, who lives in Forest Hill, Maryland.

As part of a Boy Scout project, Alex donated hundreds of hours and raised tens of thousands of dollars to build a new playground for the hospital.

Alex -- originally named Sergey -- was abandoned by his parents shortly after he was born at the hospital in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. He weighed less than 2 pounds and doctors said he had a mild case of cerebral palsy.

His condition improved slightly over the next 11 months, when Dwight and Jenny Griffith adopted him.

"The first time we saw Alex, he had rickets and he was malnourished," remembered Dwight Griffith. "At first Alex did not smile and hardly moved."

Alex grew healthier throughout his childhood and became active in the Boy Scouts. In 2007, he set out to build a new playground at Hospital 20 as his service project to become an Eagle Scout, the highest earned rank of the Boy Scouts of America.

But the teenager had his work cut out for him. In photos his parents took when they traveled to Russia to adopt him, Alex saw that the existing playground had a single rusty swing with a rotten wooden seat and a sandbox that he described as "a mud pit because of all the rain."

"I was just like, 'Wow, that's a lot different,' " he said.

Alex devoted 2 ½ years to his Krasnoyarsk Playground Project. In addition to recruiting more than 500 volunteers in five countries, he raised more than $60,000 by soliciting help from local Rotary Clubs and joining forces with other Boy Scouts for candy sales, car washes and barbeque fundraisers. Alex oversaw every aspect of production, from designing and purchasing the playground to shipping equipment overseas.

The project is a hit. Young patients and their families now have at their disposal swings, a rock wall, a climbing bridge and 5-foot tall zip slides. The playground is painted red, white and blue and the entrance has two totem poles: a bear for Russia and an eagle for America.

Alex and a small group of volunteers traveled to Hospital 20 in early August to set up the playground. A dedication ceremony was held there on August 12 -- Alex's birthday.

"It makes me feel awesome opening the playground on my 16th birthday," he said. "It's just made me really happy just being here."

The people of Krasnoyarsk have embraced the teenager, especially the children.

"I like this playground, because when you slide on it all the sadness goes away," said 11-year-old Sonja Sultanova. "I think that Alex is a noble person."

Alex no longer shows signs of cerebral palsy, but he does have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, impulsivity and a frail frame. His parents believe some of his conditions relate to his time in the hospital, due to a small staff with a lack of resources to provide enough care for the babies.

Still, he and his parents are thankful he is doing as well as he is, having grown into a typical suburban teenager alongside his four adopted siblings. He enjoys riding his dirt bike and playing video games.

Alex anticipates finding out if he becomes an Eagle Scout within the next couple months, but he is already satisfied with the outcome.

"This project has been a lot of fun and other kids who have been adopted are contacting me asking for advice," he said. "I am going to do whatever I can to help them."

Interesting story about a NY Eagle Scout

Scout earns all 121 merit badges

By Dave Marcus
Sunday, January 11, 2009

In this family photo, Eagle Scout Shawn Goldsmith shows all the merit badges he earned as a member of the Boy Scouts of America in New York.

Robert Goldsmith

In this family photo, Eagle Scout Shawn Goldsmith shows all the merit badges he earned as a member of the Boy Scouts of America in New York.

MELVILLE, N.Y. — Last May, Robert Goldsmith sat down his son, Shawn, to share dire news.

"Grandma's going to be dying soon," he said.

Shawn, then 17, a senior at Oceanside High School on New York's Long Island and an Eagle Scout, decided to honor his grandmother, Celia, by earning all 121 merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America.

By then, Shawn had earned not only the 21 merit badges needed to become an Eagle Scout, he'd racked up 62 in all.

That left 59 to get by Nov. 28, when he would turn 18 and become ineligible. His father, who had been an Eagle Scout himself, said it couldn't be done. His Scoutmaster, Joe Acquafredda, agreed.

Shawn dismissed them. "Mr. A," he recalled recently, using the nickname of his Scoutmaster, "always told us, 'If you can see it, you can be it.' So I told him the same thing."

Shawn learned to fire a shotgun accurately for a shotgun shooting merit badge. He took a few headfirst flops water skiing in a lake on the way to getting a water sports badge. He scaled a 40-foot climbing wall three times and repelled down, then helped another climber up three times for a climbing badge. "I was black and blue and bloodied, but I did it," Shawn said.

To earn a merit badge in any discipline, from cinematography to canoeing, a Scout must show proficiency and demonstrate specific skills. Shawn surpassed 100 badges last summer less than three months before his birthday.

"Anytime you get over 100 badges, you are outstanding," said Ed Stewart, a national BSA spokesman.

Sean wasn't content, though. "I felt if I got 120 merit badges and not 121, there was no point."

Shawn's grandmother had some markers of her own. Fifteen years ago, she was diagnosed with emphysema and given three years to live. Last summer, suffering from lung cancer as well, she was hospitalized, and Shawn visited her regularly to report on his latest adventures. Her response: "I believe in you."

When she died in August, he had 18 badges to go.

Shawn's grandfather, Milton, 80, accompanied Shawn as he won some of his final merit badges in carpentry, plumbing and aviation. Acquafredda said one of Shawn's toughest was his final one, in bugling. "He had to learn how to play the bugle, which isn't easy. He kept practicing till he could do it."

He bugled his way to badge No. 121 on Oct. 25, with a month to spare.

Acquafredda is proud that Troop 240, based in Riverdale, N.Y., in the Bronx, has had 190 Eagle Scouts in its 89-year history. Still, no one else has come close to accumulating all merit badges. Stewart said no more than 4 percent of Scouts nationwide become Eagle Scouts, and the organization doesn't keep statistics on the number who earn all merit badges, "but it's almost unheard of."

Now a freshman at Binghamton University, Shawn is working on a project to get teenagers to leave their video games behind and enjoy Nassau County parks.