Determination leads Frankfort teen to Eagle Scout rank
By Ginger Brashinger Correspondent November 9, 2012 5:46PM
Adam Sekula loves to play his guitar and his drums and listen to the Beatles — John Lennon is his favorite, and he loves his dog, Maxine.
The 16-year-old is not so fond of doing chores around the house or tackling his homework.
His mom, Marlene Sekula, said he tells her she’s “tough,” but said Adam doesn’t put up too much of a fuss.
What sets Adam apart from other teens his age are his accomplishments as a Boy Scout.
The Lincoln-Way East High School sophomore recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout, earning 63 merit badges, proudly displayed on a sash across his chest.
A 64th badge is in the works.
“He’s earned the most merit badges of anyone in his troop, past or present,” Marlene Sekula said.
An impressive record for any Scout, anywhere — only 4 percent of Scouts ever reach the Eagle Scout rank, Marlene Sekula said — but Adam’s accomplishments might be considered more impressive because Adam is an Eagle Scout with Down syndrome.
“He knows he has Down syndrome, and he understands he’s different,” Marlene Sekula said of her only child. But she said that has never stopped her son from accomplishing what he has set out to do.
“My expectations of him aren’t any different than I’d have of any other child,” she said.
Marlene Sekula said those expectations are true in Scouting, too. She said the only special consideration Adam has received as a Scout was when he was allowed to use a paddleboard for a 100-lap swimming requirement in order to advance in rank.
Adam not only accomplished his goal, but within months was able to do 100 laps without the board.
He doesn’t take the easy path.
Adam has set himself apart in Scouting from his early years as a Tiger Cub with Cub Scout Pack 101 in Frankfort Square. When he “crossed over” to Boy Scout Troop 237 as a fifth-grader, he was named Pack 101’s “Outstanding Cub Scout of the Year.”
“I didn’t tell him he had to” join Boy Scouts, Marlene Sekula said.
She knew there would be some real differences between the parent-run Cub Scouts and the more rigorous requirements of the Boy Scout troop, but “I had to give him some choices,” she said.
“There was no question on Adam’s part. I thought he wouldn’t stick with it, but he loved it. Every Monday night, he’s dressed and ready to go,” she said.
When the opportunity came for Adam to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, there was, again, no question in his mind. He was going for it.
Bob Cupp, Adam’s Eagle Scout project coach, said Adam is “very task-oriented.”
“He wants to see the job through and make sure it’s done right,” Cupp said. “Adam has learned to roll with different levels of difficulty put in front of him. He knows when to look for help, either to get an answer to a question or to point him in the right direction.”
Cupp said Adam doesn’t ask anyone to do it for him.
Adam said the idea for his Eagle Scout project came about when he asked Harold Osterreich, an elder of his church, Immanuel Lutheran in Mokena, if there were any projects he could take on.
Osterreich told Adam the church could use a paved area around an outdoor altar, a place where people could stand comfortably during religious ceremonies.
Adam ran with the idea, working with Cupp to raise money, plan and complete the project, directing 44 Scouts, friends and family in a 225-man-hour project.
Cupp said when it came time to do the project, Adam “oversaw, ordered and found the kids to do each job.”
“Sometimes he got caught up in the project,” Cupp said. “But he did a great job of keeping everybody going.”
Adam’s drive to do his best has been apparent all through Scouting, from his active participation in service projects to taking on leadership roles.
His talents and determination are apparent in other areas of his life, as well. He has earned Special Olympics medals in golf, volleyball, basketball and other sports through the Lincolnway Special Recreation Association, and he is part of the Best Buddies program at Lincoln-Way East.
Still, scouting is Adam’s “passion,” Marlene Sekula said.
He plans to stick with his passion, eventually working up from his rank as junior assistant Scoutmaster.
“He’s very determined. I used to call it stubbornness, but it’s a determination,” Marlene Sekula said. “He wants to get it done.”