by Charles Collier, The Denmark News
BELLEVUE—Alex Sidwell celebrated his 18th birthday with family, friends, and comrades last Saturday, March 3 in Bellevue, surrounded by neatly arranged photo collages and binders bulging with Boy Scout merit badges. A small display of different knots, a former champion Pinewood Derby car, and a six-foot wide bank of blue and red ribbons were attached to an array of Sidwell’s many projects through his seven years with Troop 1052 in Denmark.
Troop 1052 leader Eugene Daoust said that Sidwell, who currently helps teach skills to the younger Cub Scouts as the Troop’s Den Chief, had even overcome his inability to swim in order to advance through the Scouts’ levels.
When he entered the estuary between childhood and maturity on Saturday, staying afloat was the least of Alex’s worries. Instead of swimming to shore, he will now soar above the clouds as one of the most exclusive members of the Boy Scouts of America: an Eagle Scout.
“He’s finally climbing to the top of the mountain. He’s got something that less than one percent of any Scout ever gets in the United States,” his father Milo said, holding back prideful tears. “This award opens doors to scholarships automatically, to jobs, to opportunities. I didn’t think I would live to see this day.”
Among the several badges and pins issued to those who attain Eagle status, one held specific significance.
“This is the Mentor Pin,” Daoust explained during the ceremony, “It’s given to a person that Alex thinks gave him the most encouragement throughout the process of becoming an Eagle.”
A labored decision, Alex first walked toward his mother before turning his head sharply left to his father, eliciting chuckles from the camera-ready audience, and pinning the honor onto his father’s shirt.
As for any child with special needs, Alex’s road was never smooth; he was the subject of bullying through childhood and was frequently left out of group athletics and other activities due to his needs. When given opportunities, though, he’s refused to give up before becoming the best he can be at any given trade.
Three years ago, after recommendations from Denmark instructor Julie Luebke, Alex began attending Syble Hopp which Milo credits for realigning his son’s life and helping him reach new academic, social, and individual heights.
“He’s had to work at least three times harder than anyone else,” Milo says. “He was told he could never do anything, but now he’s got a driver’s license, a snowmobile license, an ATV driver’s license, he’s got his own hunting and fishing license and he’s qualified for everything. He’s just a regular boy.”
Eagle scouts must undertake a project that demonstrates leadership and admirable service to the community. Alex met this requirement by building and installing a set of benches on the Syble Hopp campus, giving comfortable rest to generations of kids like himself.
He says his life’s direction is still undecided, but that he would like to operate a lawncare, gardening, and snow removal service.
“I like to help elderly people, cheer people up when they’re feeling down. I like to work with younger people, to teach them and show them how to do things,” the latest Eagle said. “Perhaps my purpose in life is to help people.”
VFW Post 6705 provided special commentary on the importance of the American flag and the common lines of respect between veterans and scouts before presenting a Certificate of Recognition with a donation of money.
“My ambitions are many,” Alex said. “Maybe my ambitions and purpose in life are not yet definite, but God has a plan for me and by keeping an open mind and by trying to live by the ideas of Scouting and the Golden rule, I will succeed. And I will keep trying.”