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Eagle Scout reaches goal through adversity

February 15, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

Eagle Scout reaches goal through adversity

Since he joined Troop 2 of the Boy Scouts at age 11, Mark Schneider had his eyes on the ultimate goal of achieving Eagle Scout.

The Hagerstown native didn't figure on a blood vessel bursting at his brain stem months after joining the organization, putting him into a coma for five weeks and leaving him paralyzed and unable to speak.

It seemed his goal, with all of its requirements, would be impossible to reach.

"When I first woke up (from the coma) I couldn't move anything," said Schneider.

Now 18 and a senior at North Hagerstown High School, Schneider has endured seven years of multiple surgeries and intense physical therapy to get to where he is today.

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Like some stroke victims, Schneider experiences weakness in the right side of his face and the left side of his body.

The teen speaks slowly, forming his words carefully, and though a little wobbly, he can walk with the help of a walker for short periods of time.

He plans to walk across the stage of his high school in June to receive his diploma.

Schneider expertly handles his black and green wheelchair - he ordered green in honor of his favorite football team, the Green Bay Packers - and the grip of his handshake is almost painful.

In between countless trips to hospitals in Pennsylvania and Florida for rehabilitation, Schneider never lost sight of his goal.

Over the years, he worked up through the ranks of the Boy Scouts, starting at Tenderfoot and entering the upper levels of Star and Life.

In 1992, Schneider was elected by his fellow Scouts to membership in the Order of the Arrow. Two years later, he completed the work to become a brotherhood member.

He earned the God and Country Award, participated in the 1993 National Jamboree, and has been active in Scout-sponsored community service projects like Scouting for Food, tree planting and the annual Walk for Multiple Sclerosis.

Along the way, he fulfilled 20 requirements - including first aid and environmental science - well enough to earn a merit badge for each.

Because of his physical inability to complete one badge for sports, the Boy Scout Advancement Committee permitted Schneider to substitute his hiking badge to meet the requirements.

For his Eagle Scout service project, he refurbished an entryway into an activity room at Otterbein United Methodist Church, where he is a member, stripping off all of the paint on the walls and door, repairing caulking around the windows and foundation, and repainting.

With the help of six other people, Schneider took 55 hours to complete his service project, including planning it, getting the supplies, supervising the others and working himself.

At a banquet last week, Schneider was presented with his Eagle medal and badge, followed by a formal ceremony the next day during the worship service at his church. He also received the Americanism Award and silk flag from Elks Lodge 378.

His older brother, Scott, and younger brother, Eric, are also Eagle Scouts.

Schneider said he doesn't feel much different now that he's an Eagle Scout, except that "it means all of the younger Scouts will look up to me."

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