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Good Scout. (The Goodness of America).

Jedadiah Curry, 16, is a junior at Altamont High School in the Uintah Basin city of Altamont in eastern Utah. At age 11, after earning virtually every award attainable under the Cub Scout program sponsored by Boy Scouts of America (BSA), he began collecting the 21 merit badges required for Scouting's highest rank of Eagle. He received his Eagle Scout Award at age 12, but did not stop there. In November of last year, Jed completed work on his 123rd merit badge, placing him among an elite handful of Scouts who have earned every badge offered by the BSA, including some that have been discontinued. Kay Godfrey, information officer for the BSA's Great Salt Lake Council, told the Salt Lake Tribune for December 26, 2001: "In my 25 years of professional Scouting I've only seen one or two who have done that."

Tribune community news editor David Noyce described how the abundance of badges have created a formidable space problem on his uniform. His mother "started with a sash, but Jed quickly filled that up. So she switched to a bigger sash and reattached the patches. Jed has since filled that one up, too -- front and back," forcing his mom to begin "stitching merit badges on the right sleeve of his uniform."

Jed's impressive Scouting achievements are notable by themselves, but especially so considering the serious physical ailments that have plagued him since birth. He must, for instance, take 15 to 20 pills several times each day to cope with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease with which he was diagnosed as a baby. Cystic fibrosis entails a tendency for chronic lung infections and an inability to absorb fats and other nutrients from food. He spends an hour or more each day hooked up to a machine that breaks up congestion in his lungs, and must carry a battery-powered device for that purpose on camping trips.

Jed also has Type I diabetes, and must test his blood numerous times each day and self-administer insulin injections. Occasionally, he is also plagued by asthma. "All these maladies," Noyce writes, "might lead one to believe Jed is a sickly kid. He's not. He swims, runs, plays baseball and performs in plays. Sure, his parents -- Penny and Doug -- had to take him home early from a Scout camp once and a 50-mile hike was especially draining ... but Jed wants no sympathy for his illnesses."

Earning some merit badges came easy, while others proved to be rather onerous. Noyce reports that Jed "polished off mammal studies at a single camp," and woodwork was a breeze because, in Jed's words, "All you have to do is carve something." Also, most of the water-related badges -- swimming, lifesaving, water skiing, etc. -- were easy for the youngster since, as Mrs. Curry points out, "Swimming is one of the best exercises for cystic fibrosis." Indeed, Jed teaches swimming and is a lifeguard at a pool in nearby Roosevelt, Utah. Not every badge was easily attained. Jed struggled with the merit badges for energy and atomic energy and, Noyce notes, "the first badge he started working on -- radio -- was also the last one he earned."

Jed believes that his work on merit badges helped him to recognize and understand his strengths and weaknesses, as well as his likes and dislikes. It also enabled him to develop skills in a wide variety of areas. Penny Curry reflects, "There are things he can do that he never would have even thought of if he hadn't done a merit badge. They gave him a lot of different talents." Noyce points out, for instance, that "without the merit badges ... Jed may never have learned about birds or bugles, dentistry or drafting, plumbing or pottery." And his "public speaking merit badge is paying dividends now that he has become a desired speaker in Uintah Basin Scouting circles."

Asked if he will strive to earn any additional badges that the BSA might adopt before he turns 18, Jed insists, "I'm through." But his folks are not as certain. "After all," Noyce observes, "there still is room left on that sleeve."
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Title Annotation:Utah Boy Scout earns 123 badges
Author:Lee, Robert W.
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U8UT
Date:Feb 11, 2002
Previous Article:The right answers.
Next Article:Heroic rescue. (The Goodness of America).

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