By Kim Hone-McMahan
Beacon Journal staff writer
An Eagle Scout is a young man who has reached the highest level of achievement in scouting. Only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts earned the rank in 2011.
But reaching Eagle Scout distinction isn’t a rarity in Stow’s Troop 177. It’s expected.
Since 1960, the Troop has had 115 boys who have reached the summit of the Eagle Trail. The sons or nephews of many of them have gone on to earn Eagle rank in other troops, but never in the same troop — until Sunday. That’s when three young men were recognized as second-generation Eagles within Troop 177.
In Jesse McKeown’s family, the Eagle Scout tradition goes back even further. Not only were his uncles Eagle Scouts with Troop 177, but his maternal grandfather, Dennis Chrobak of Silver Lake, also received the highest honor (with another troop). That makes McKeown the third generation in his family to reach such a distinction. And there’s something else about him that makes the honor even more extraordinary.
The 18-year-old Ellet High School junior has Usher’s Syndrome, a condition which is gradually taking away both his sight and hearing.
“It’s been a wonderful learning experience for him,” said Chrobak prior to the start of the celebration at Silver Springs Lodge in Stow.
Neil Durbin, an assistant Scoutmaster and Eagle adviser in Troop 177 and whose son, John, was honored on Sunday, explained that McKeown overcame his physical challenges to fulfill all the Eagle requirements, without using any of the accommodations that Scouting offers to young men with similar disabilities.
For his Eagle project, McKeown, who is interested in researching a cure for his disorder, organized and recruited a team of volunteers to construct 20 wooden eyeglass collection boxes on behalf of the Stow-Munroe Falls Lions Club.
The boxes were placed in a variety of locations to collect eyeglasses for refurbishing and distribution to the needy within the United States and beyond.
“This [being an Eagle Scout] will be part of me my… life,” McKeown said.
John Durbin, an 18-year-old who is home schooled in Stow, was thrilled to share his big day with his family and friends.
“The older I get the more my Eagle means to me, so helping my son with this has a whole new meaning,” said his father, Neil. “I’m very proud and grateful.”
For his Eagle project, John Durbin led a team of volunteers in the renovation of a brick walkway at the Blessed Mother Grotto at St. Francis DeSales Church in Coventry.
The final second-generation Eagle Scout honored was Stow’s Kevin Menke, an 18-year-old Stark State College student. His father, Bryan, earned his Eagle Scout in the same troop.
“I’m very proud to know that he can move on in life under any circumstances because of the training he received in the Boy Scouts,” he said.
For his project, Kevin Menke planned and organized a team in groundhog-proofing the Darrow House, a historical building in the Heritage Reserve section of Silver Springs Park in Stow. The groundhogs were undermining and damaging the building’s foundation.
He designed the work to prevent further damage.
Standing tall, he acknowledged that he has learned lessons during his years in the Boy Scouts that will be with him forever.
“I will follow the Scout law the rest of my life,” he said. “It will guide me.”
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or email@example.com.