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Future Eagle Scout overcomes obstacles

Hope Center will benefit from KM student's project

Dec. 11, 2012

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," his father, Dennis, said.

Garrett was born four months prematurely and was then diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. It resulted in cognitive delays and impaired vision.

His dad said if he takes off his glasses, he is legally blind. And he said Garrett gets around with a powered wheelchair.

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

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

According to the National Eagle Scout Association website, the percentage of scouts who become Eagle Scouts is five percent and Dennis explained that number is even lower when it comes to disabled scouts.

Giving hope to others

A number, however, that stands out to Garrett is 560. That's the number of families that received clothing items from Waukesha's Hope Center during last season's holiday season.

Garrett recognized this and is finding a way to help these families through his Eagle Scout service project. He has organized a monthlong clothing drive with all the donations going toward the Hope Center, nonprofit organization that has served the homeless with basic needs of financial assistance, food, clothing and freefurniture 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 in Hartland 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, 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 high school students. Vodenlich 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."

Vodenlich said when she misses a day of school Garrett is the first person to come up to her the next day to see if everything is OK.

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 for the service project.

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 - just 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 drop-off 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 those churches. It didn't surprise Vodenlich that Garrett has led the way through this project.

"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 an Eagle Scout 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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