Skip to comments.New Eagle Scout overcame all the obstacles and soared
Posted on 07/23/2004 1:27:16 PM PDT by esryle
Disability barely slowed Sam Roe's march to his dream
EVERETT -- When asked which Scouting accomplishment he was most proud of -- rock climbing, swimming, 20-mile bike rides, lashing ropes -- Sam Roe's answer shot out of his mouth like a bullet.
"Here" was aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln yesterday, in a cavernous hangar of the aircraft carrier surrounded by friends, family, sailors and Gov. Gary Locke -- all of whom helped make his improbable dream of becoming an Eagle Scout come true.
The 15-year-old, who suffered a stroke before birth and has cerebral palsy, completed all the requirements, which only 2 percent of Boy Scouts ever achieve. The Boy Scouts made no accommodations for his disability.
The ceremony was just the way he had planned -- John Denver singing about eagles sailing through canyons, the "Top Gun" theme echoing through the ship and a solemn pledge read by Locke, who earned his own Eagle Scout medal in 1964.
For Roe, the award meant learning how to rock-climb, tying knots and hoisting his toothpick-thin body up a 40-foot wall despite being able to use only a couple fingers on his left hand.
It meant overcoming a fear of swimming and hiking through snow, supported by a leg brace, visible yesterday through red and olive knee socks. He caught fish, learned about astronomy, wrote letters to the editor and organized a project to benefit the place where he learned to try anything.
He first visited the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Woodinville when he was 6. Instructors there use the rhythmic movement of horses to provide therapy and improve muscle tone for people with disabilities.
At the time, Roe's balance was too unstable to ride a bicycle. He wasn't wild about the huge animals.
"I said, 'I won't ride a horse.' They made me," he said. "And the horse got me balance to ride a bike."
For his Eagle Scout project, he organized a weekendlong undertaking to build storage racks for the center's gear, repair wooden posts that had rotted and fix a hole in the roof to protect the equestrian equipment.
Douglas Kerrigan, a fellow troop member who pitched in on that project, called Roe an excellent Boy Scout.
"He's a great leader, and I respect him for it. When your spirit runs low, Sam can help you raise it back up. ... I'm really grateful to him for that," he said.
Zack Sestak remembered the day he met Roe more than five years ago. Appropriately, the troop was going to look for eagles in the Upper Skagit River Valley.
At that time, Roe's communications skills weren't as developed as they are now, he said. In the car, he couldn't really sing along to the John Denver songs he loved. But Sestak said he immediately recognized something special in him.
They later shared a tent at a summer camp where the mosquitoes were so fierce they would practically carry you away. An exhausted Roe forgot to arrange his mosquito net and woke up with bites covering every inch of his body.
"He enjoyed summer camp just the same while everyone else was complaining. I think that's symbolic of how he's approached his Scouting career. He never let little things slow him down," Sestak said.
The 31 merit badges Roe earned in classes such as citizenship, physical fitness, emergency preparedness and shotgun shooting cover his sash from shoulder to hip. That's 10 more than what's required to become an Eagle Scout.
On the troop's recent trip to Hawaii, he hiked up the crater of a steep volcano and traversed a ridge narrow enough to cause some of the acrophobic adults to turn back. He snorkeled along reefs watching tropical fish.
Roe has taught other Scouts worlds about patience and determination, said Charles Rincon, Scoutmaster of Everett's Boy Scout Troop 114. He has learned self-reliance, as well as when to rely on others.
"He'll try anything. ... And the neat thing is that when the other boys see Sam doing these things, the other boys definitely can't say they can't do it," he said.
Locke, who joined the Boy Scouts at a time when his parents were running a seven-day-a-week grocery store, said the lessons and values Roe has learned will stay with him for the rest of his life.
All it took to persuade Locke to come was a letter explaining what Roe had accomplished and his wish for an Eagle Court of Honor ceremony: on the Navy's USS Abraham Lincoln, with the governor there, too.
"The road to becoming an Eagle is long and hard, and Sam has faced additional obstacles," Locke said. "You are proof that a spirited heart, determined mind and courageous soul can accomplish anything."
awsome article. :)
Congrats to a brave kid, especially because it seems from the article that it wasn't a pity award. I really do hope it wasn't -- the last thing we need is the Boy Scouts of all groups to become p.c.
This extraordinary young man should be given an award by President Bush. He should be Man of the Year in Time magazine.
What an inspiration he is!
America is still ticking in some hearts. This young man is proof of this. God Bless America!
Awesome and inspirational. God bless.
Awesome young man!!
Um, do I really belong to a group which only represent 2% of the achievers?
What an amazing triumph of the human spirit!! EggsAckley, I agree with you 100% on the nomination for Time's Man of the Year. Congratulations to Sam Roe and Boy Scout Troop 114--another sign of hope for our nation. May their tremendous accomplishments continue to encourge and inspire the rest of us.
Bumping and marking for my Bear to read since his sights are on Eagle.
Over the last two or three years, the percentage has crept up to about 4% -- primarily because a disproportinately higher percentage of boys in LDS Troops earn the rank, and the number of LDS Troops in the BSA continues to grow.
The BSA program, with some special modifications, is the official youth program of the LDS church.
If you want exact figures, then I can pull out the information from materials I got at this year's Annual Meeting of the BSA in Chicago. I believe the number of boys earning Eagle last year was the second highest annual number in history.
While earning the rank of Eagle is still a great accomplishment -- look also for Sea Scouts who earn the rank of Quartermaster (1 for each 700 Eagle Scouts, if I remember correctly) or Venturing Scouts who earn the Silver Award (although the requirements for that award seem to morph with regularity as the BSA tries to define the co-ed program of Venturing). Without belittling what it takes to earn the rank of Eagle, the Venturing Silver Award and PARTICULARLY the Quartermaster are possibly more difficult.
Show me a young man who has earned BOTH Quartermaster and Eagle ranks and I'll show you where the future of our country should be.
I had the pleasure of presiding over the Bridge of Honor for the second female to earn Quartermaster in the history of the State of Georgia, and recently had lunch with her and her advisor before she reported for Naval duty. What a great kid.