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  • I know this Guy !

    A Scout's story:
    'It's like being on top of a mountain'

    Bethlehem teen conquers challenges of cerebral palsy to earn Boy Scouting's highest honor.

    By Michael Duck Of The Morning Call

    Blake Tange's eyes flashed as he told stories about setting up tents in the middle of the night and sliding down snowy trails with his fellow Boy Scouts -- all part of the challenge of Scouting, but an even bigger test for the Bethlehem 17-year-old in Troop 362.

    Tange was born with a cyst filling half his brain cavity, leaving him with cerebral palsy and other medical conditions that make standing and walking difficult. But those challenges couldn't stop him from hiking, camping and knot-tying his way to a ceremony today where he'll be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout, an honor achieved by only 5 percent of Boy Scouts nationwide.

    Service: Led a team of 25 volunteers to create a wheelchair-accessible nature trail at a center for special-needs children.

    Leadership: Served as senior patrol leader (top youth leader in troop), quartermaster (in charge of troop camping equipment) and junior assistant Scoutmaster (assists adult leaders), among other positions.

    Skills: Earned 55 merit badges in subjects including camping, first aid, orienteering, personal fitness, wilderness survival and wood carving. (Twenty-one badges are required to reach Eagle Scout.)

    ''I've wanted to do this since I was in first grade,'' Tange said, beaming. ''It's like being on top of a mountain.''

    Tange, a senior at Freedom High School, conquers hiking trails using off-road wheelchairs or walkers. For his Eagle Scout service project, he led 25 volunteers in clearing hundreds of square feet of brush to create a wheelchair-accessible nature trail at Camelot for Children, a center in south Allentown for special-needs children.

    Tange has also become one of Troop 362's most respected leaders and has earned 55 merit badges, more than twice the number needed to reach Eagle Scout.

    Asked which of those badges were his favorites, Tange paused for a moment, then grinned. ''Disability Awareness,'' he said.

    Cerebral palsy is a ''problem with muscle strength and coordination,'' explained Sally Haggerty of Bethlehem, one of the adult leaders in Troop 362 and also a pediatrician.

    The disorder makes it hard for Tange to control his leg movements while walking and limits his hand-eye coordination. For example, ''he really had to work hard'' to learn knots, Haggerty said, and he spent years working to improve his swimming in one-on-one sessions with her.

    Tange's brain abnormality was discovered soon after he was born, said his mother, Lynn Woolf-Tange. The family quickly realized his medical conditions didn't limit his intelligence or his social skills and signed him up for Scouting.

    Tange has thrived in the program for 12 years, starting as a Tiger Cub in first grade and progressing through Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

    ''It added a normalcy to his life,'' Woolf-Tange said. ''He's always kind of been the bridge between the special needs kids and the regular kids.''

    Tange's peers in the troop of about 60 boys elected him as their senior patrol leader, a Boy Scout troop's top youth position. Tange went on to become a junior assistant Scoutmaster to help out the adult leaders.

    ''People ask advice: 'Blake, how should we do this?' And he'll have an answer almost all the time,'' said Scoutmaster Jim Roberts of Bethlehem Township.

    Current Senior Patrol Leader Jarrett Comer is one of many who's gone to Tange for pointers.

    Once, Comer said, he was faced with a mountain of dirty dishes and a group of boys who weren't about to clean it up. ''People were arguing, 'Who wants to do dishes or not,''' said Comer, a 15-year-old Liberty High School freshman from Hanover Township, Northampton County.

    Tange ''explained to me I should have gotten a duty roster set up,'' Comer said. He followed Tange's advice next time and assigned jobs in advance, and the dishes got cleaned a lot faster.

    Tange also tested his leadership skills with his Eagle Scout service project benefitting Camelot for Children, an organization that had helped him when he was younger. Because he enjoys the outdoors so much, he decided to create an ''enchanted woods'' where children without off-road wheelchairs could still enjoy nature, he said.

    For at least a month of weekends, Tange led 25 volunteers in clearing brush out of woods near Camelot's building. ''They mulched it and planted it and [put in] birdfeeders and wind chimes,'' said Jo Ellen Moll, Camelot's executive assistant. ''It's just beautiful back there.''

    Tange's Eagle Court of Honor today will celebrate the success of the project and his Scouting career. Haggerty and Roberts will also be recognized during the afternoon ceremony, at Bethlehem's East Hills Moravian Church, for their work with special-needs Scouts like Tange, said officials of the Minsi Trails Council, which oversees Troop 362.

    Tange's friend John Lahutsky, who also has cerebral palsy, joined in the preparations for the Court of Honor by helping fellow Scouts make chili for the reception after the ceremony.

    Lahutsky, 17, of Bethlehem Township called Tange ''a real good guy'' and maybe a bit of an inspiration, too: Lahutsky also plans to become an Eagle Scout.

    http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-a1_4scout.5844060may12,0,604731.story?coll=all-news-hed

  • #2
    Blake sounds like one heck of a good kid.
    We as an organization should feel both proud and honored to serve a Scout like Blake.
    I wish I knew more Guys like him
    Ea.

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    • #3
      Eamonn, the story doesnt say it, but he is also vice chief in the OA and has been on NYLT staff for 4 years, he is quite a kid.

      Then there is John Lahutsy mentioned in the article, do a search on Lahutsky for an article on his story I posted last mother's day(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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