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Tuesday

September 2014

2

Nothing can stop future KM Eagle Scout

KM student leads clothing drive for Hope Center

Garrett Becker doesn't worry about what the percentages say. He knows he's going to beat them, anyway.

Take for example the start of his life.

"He was given a 15 percent chance to live six months," said his father, Dennis.

Garrett was born four months prematurely and was then diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. It resulted in cognitive delays and impaired vision. If he takes off his glasses, he is legally blind. And he gets around with a powered wheelchair.

None of that bothers Garrett, though, who lives in the Town of Genesee.

After all, he has not only far surpassed his original prognosis (he's 19 years old and a thriving senior at Kettle Moraine High School), he has also navigated the ranks of scouting to where he is on the cusp of becoming an Eagle.

According to the National Eagle Scout Association, only 5 percent of Scouts ever become Eagles. Dennis explained that the percentage is even lower when it comes to disabled Scouts.

Giving hope to others

One number that does hold meaning for Gartett is 560. That's the number of families that received clothing items from Waukesha's Hope Center during last year's holiday season.

Garrett is finding a way to help these families through his Eagle Scout service project.

As a result, he has organized a monthlong clothing drive, with all the donations going toward the Hope Center, a nonprofit organization that has served the homeless with basic needs of financial assistance, food, clothing and free furniture for 25 years.

"He thought there are a lot of homeless people who don't have a lot of money, and people need winter clothes," Dennis said.

He set up clothing barrels at various locations around the county, including Divine Redeemer Lutheran Church and School and Christ the King Lutheran Church in Delafield, where Garrett's Troop 20 is based. Dennis said Garrett is looking for clean and gently used winter apparel and new underwear and socks for men, women and children.

Showing his kindness

Jen Vodenlich, a physical education teacher at Kettle Moraine High School who works with Garrett as the school's Best Buddies adviser (a program that pairs students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in one-on-one friendships with more typically developing high school students), said she wasn't surprised by the choice of his service project.

"He has such a positive outlook on life and is very compassionate," Vodenlich said. "So that's really a fitting topic for him to help others. It's right up his alley."

Adding his sports love

Garrett was at the Kettle Moraine girls basketball game last Friday and will be at Tuesday's Arrowhead/Kettle Moraine boys game collecting donations.

There are also two barrels at the high school throughout the month.

It's only fitting that the barrels will be at a sporting event. Around the halls of Kettle Moraine, he's called the Lasers' No. 1 fan.

He's on the sidelines for almost all of the school's sporting events and is part of the football, boys and girls basketball and baseball teams as a motivational team member.

"He's truly one of the most supportive individuals at the school," Vodenlich said. "He goes to everything and is so fun to talk with."

Vodenlich is confident the students will come out for Garrett's cause and support him - as they always have.

She said he was voted to the prom court last spring and has built strong relationships with all kinds of students at Kettle Moraine through his involvement in choir, the Tri-M Music Honor Society, athletics and DECA.

Leading the way

After he collects all the clothing items from the dropoff locations, Garrett will deliver them to the Hope Center next month.

Organizing this project required him to make contact with the Hope Center as well as churches. But that didn't pose an obstacle.

"There's not a shy bone in Garrett's body," said Vodenlich, who has known Garrett the last four years. "He'll jump right in to help the other kids, and during activities he's right there giving directions.

"Plus, when I'm having a bad day, it goes away when I see Garrett, because he always has a smile on his face, and you realize how much he's overcome. I'm lucky to know him."

Dennis, who earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1961, agrees. And that's why he is so overjoyed his son reached the pinnacle of scouting.

"I'm very happy for him," Dennis said. "He's worked real hard to get to where he is."

When asked why he wanted to become an Eagle Scout, Garrett didn't hesitate:

"Because of my dad," Garrett said.

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