Potential Presidential Contender Headlines West Michigan Eagle Scout Celebration

Could Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker become the second U.S. President to hold the distinction of being an Eagle Scout, the highest Boy Scout rank?

Only time will tell, but Walker did recently pay homage to the first and only president so far to bear that honor, President Gerald R. Ford, at a recent event celebrating new Eagle Scouts in Grand Rapids.

The 2015 Building Character Celebration recognized all the new Eagle Scouts and Silver Award recipients from the Gerald R. Ford Council of Boy Scouts at a dinner event on Feb. 25 at the Amway Grand Plaza hotel. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was a sponsor of the celebration.

While Walker didn’t mention his political aspirations during his address to the scouts, their parents, leaders and gathered community members, he is considered a front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

As a young boy, he said he was already very interested in history, civics, and social studies. He remembered seeing pictures of accomplished Eagle Scouts in the “Boys’ Life” magazines he would read.

“To see that President Ford was an Eagle Scout was quite an inspiration,” Walker said.

When Ford died in 2006, Walker said he was touched along with the rest of the nation to see the massive tribute and individual salutes made by local scouts to a fallen hero.

“To this council, thank you for continuing his memory,” Walker said.

Overcoming a speech impediment and learning how to be a good listener, communicator, and leader are all things Walker attributes to his time in the Boy Scouts. He earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1985 and remarked that it’s an accomplishment he doesn’t refer to as something he did in the past. To Walker, he is and will forever be an Eagle Scout.

“It’s something you are and people are going to look to you,” he told the newly minted Eagle Scouts seated behind him.

At the celebration, special recognitions were also presented to:

  • Jaxon Riley receives his award.
    Jaxon Riley receives his award.

    Jaxon Riley who earned the Eagle Scout of the Year award and was recognized at the ceremony. The Hart resident put lessons he’d learned through scouting into action last August after a member of his family was found unresponsive after falling into a swimming pool. Riley leapt into action, providing CPR to the victim until EMS arrived, saving the family member’s life.

  • Martin Cotanche and Judge James Robert Redford who were both honored with the National Outstanding Eagle Scout Award. Redford compared the scouting oath to GPS coordinates and that the values of leadership and service he acquired through the Boy Scouts have guided him his entire life.
  • The North Star Award was presented to John and Nancy Kennedy, for their business success as the founders of Autocam and their volunteer and service commitments to the West Michigan community. Nancy Kennedy said scouting teaches young men to step out and take risks and she thanked the parents and scout masters in attendance for shaping the next generation of leaders.

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Photo credit: Julie Bitely, A Healthier Michigan

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