Grayson Neal, 16, center, listens as his father, Greg Neal, reads during his ceremony to become an Eagle Scout Monday. (Jill McLaughlin Photo)
Grayson Neal, a sophomore at Goddard High School, started a new tradition for the Neal family when he took the oath during a special ceremony Monday night to become an Eagle Scout.
He told his mother, Pam, that he hopes his own son will someday reach the same milestone, just as his own father, Greg Neal, had before him.
Following a pinning service that included an oath in front of the rest of Troop No. 149 at a banquet held at Assumption Catholic Church, Neal awarded his father a mentor pin.
“My mentor throughout my entire life has been my dad,” Neal said, before pinning the award to his father’s lapel.
He explained that without his dad’s encouragement to join the Boy Scouts five years ago, he wouldn’t have experienced all he had.
“I thank my dad for that,” Neal said.
Neal attained Eagle Scout recently after completing a project that involved organizing a successful blood drive in conjunction with United Blood Services.
“They donated their time to help with the Eagle Scout Project,” Neal said.
Neal spent nearly 100 hours filling out paperwork, putting together fliers and passing them out to several people throughout the city.
He was able to be creative with the event that took place at the north Farmers Market at the beginning of the month, he said.
Neal hired a “bounce-about” mobile play structure and built a sandbox for children who waited for the adults who participated, he said. Farmers Market donated food for the donors and Pepsi donated six cases of beverages.
“It was a lot,” Neal said.
As a result, United Blood Services was able to collect 24 pints of blood that day, which was well above the average of 10-14 typically collected, he said.
The project taught Neal a lot about perseverance, he said.
“I learned a lot,” he said. “All of it taught me to be a better person. It takes a lot of time and dedication.”
Neal is also president of Goddard High School’s Key Club and is enrolled in honors classes.
“I’m tied up with other things,” he said.
He knows several other Scouts who start projects but give up after a while, he said. He encourages them to follow through.
“Definitely follow through with it,” Neal said. “They lose their interest too fast.”
Attaining Eagle Scout is the highest rank achievable in the Boy Scouts of America. A Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges and demonstrate Scout spirit through the Boy Scout Oath and Law, service and leadership.
Neal’s mother, Pam, said she’s seen her son mature from his years spent in the program.
“It makes such a man out of these young men,” Pam Neal said. “It is said that scouting makes mature men. If they make Eagle, they can do just about anything in life.”
Her son recently told her that he hopes someday he can pass what he has learned on to his own son.
“It’s starting a family tradition,” she said.