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Boy Scout earns 132 merit badges despite disability

By Sandra Yi | Posted - Sep. 12, 2011 at 10:49 a.m.


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SOUTH JORDAN -- A Boy Scout from South Jordan has achieved a goal only a few can claim, and he didn't let his disability deter him.

Nate Christensen, 17, isn't your ordinary Boy Scout. That's evident when you look at his uniform. His sash is full of merit badges.

"This one is actually called the athletics badge," Nate said. "That took me a while to earn."

Nate also showed us his cycling badge. He got it after learning how to ride a bike when he was 12. He has so many other badges that his mother had to extend his sash to fit them all. When asked to pick his favorite, Nate doesn't hesitate.

"I think the most epic badge I ever had was the grape soda cap from the Up House," Nate said, referring to the Disney movie, "Up."

The teen proudly wears his sash and for good reason.

"A long time ago, I just saw this article in the newspaper about a scout that earned all the badges and I thought that would be a great goal for my life," he said.

And he achieved it. It's no small goal for any Boy Scout, especially one with autism.

"We're just so proud," said Nate's mother, Sandy Christensen. "He's worked so hard."

In the past six years, Nate has earned all 132 merit badges.

On Sunday, Nate's scout leader presented him with his last two badges, for chess and inventing, during a special ceremony at his church in South Jordan. Just two months away from his 18th birthday, this is considered his final Court of Honor.

"I think it's changed his entire life. The things he's learned in Scouts will be the things he can take the rest of his life, for one thing, things like plumbing and home repair," Christensen said.

Nate, who has a mild or moderate diagnosis of autism, chose not to take any shortcuts getting these badges, even though he was allowed the option. He earned each one, just like any other Boy Scout would.

"It just makes me look so epic that I just want to show off all my merit badges to all my friends," Nate said.

Bragging rights are in order for Nate, who proved that anything is possible, if you set your mind to it.

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

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