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Cub Scout earns award

Community: Student earns Medal of Merit for work with children with specials needs

Posted: July 5, 2010 10:42 p.m.
Updated: July 6, 2010 6:00 a.m.

Charles Helmers Elementary School student and Cub Scout Patrick Sweeney, 9, was recently awarded the Medal of Merit by the Boy Scouts of America for his work with students with special needs.

The Medal of Merit from the Boy Scouts of America goes only to a scout who “has performed some outstanding act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.”

That award was recently given to local Cub Scout Patrick Sweeney. Two years ago, Sweeney, 9, joined the Cub Scouts and made the promise to “do my best to do my duty to God and country, to help other people, and to obey the Law of the Pack.”

He has been doing just that, spending his free time with autistic children in Charles Helmers Elementary School Special Day Classes.

Last year, Patrick also started spending his recess time in the special-needs class.

He has begun to work with an autistic child at his church and organized some of his fellow Cub Scouts for a team at the Autism Walks event at the Rose Bowl.

Patrick, who asked friends and relatives to match the money he made, raised more than half of the $500 his team collected.

His mother, Brandy Sweeney, says once he gets an idea in his head, there is no stopping him.  

“It scares me a little,” she said. “It is never something small.”

Recognition was not in Patrick’s mind when he started doing this work, she said.

“He would be doing what he is doing regardless of an award. He looks at this as doing something for his friends,” his mom said.

“After a while, once you are working with the kids, it almost felt like a visit to help a friend,” Patrick said.

“I was surprised actually ... very surprised,” Patrick said of the Medal of Merit. “I really didn’t think I was going to get it.”

Michael Peterson, the former cub master of Patrick’s pack, said Patrick’s apparent lack of concern with recognition was part of the reason the pack leaders wanted to nominate him for the Medal of Merit.

“He is doing this on his own — no one is prompting him or asking him to do it,” Peterson said.

A Medal of Merit is a special award for a Boy Scout, but for a Cub Scout to earn it is indeed unusual, Peterson said.

“In a lot of ways, that is what a (Boy) Scout should do,” he said. “But he is a Cub Scout, and we don’t expect a Cub Scout to go out and do this.”

Peterson said Patrick is an example to his fellow scouters. 

“I’m just really thrilled that one of our boys is earning it,” he said. “It is a rare opportunity. This is what scouting is suppose to be all about.”


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