HEBER — A teen was recognized Wednesday for achieving something very few have in the 108-year history of the Boy Scouts of America.
Seventeen-year-old Andrew Felsted has earned every merit badge offered, 138 in total, during the past six years, including one that has since been retired.
“I’m glad to finally be at the end of this goal,” Felsted told dozens of family members and friends who gathered in his family’s backyard Wednesday night for a special Court of Honor. “It’s been a big goal and I always knew that the whole time I never wanted to give up, but there are a few times where I was like, ‘this is a lot of work!’”
Scout leaders said they believed only about 300 youth across the country have ever accomplished the feat.
“Thank you does not suffice to everyone who has helped me so much,” Felsted told the crowd. “All of you — whether you know it or not — have helped me in some way.”
Felsted admitted he probably couldn’t recite every single merit badge he had ever earned without a list in front of him, but he proudly pointed to several badges, including those for kayaking, theater, backpacking, programming, sales and astronomy.
The teen has met every obstacle placed in front of him, including some significant health challenges when he was younger.
His mother, Missy Felsted, said when he was 5 years old, a brain tumor was discovered on his brain stem.
“There was no cerebral spinal fluid flowing,” the mother recalled. “They told us we would be very lucky if he lived through the night.”
The boy survived 30 days of radiation and 56 weeks of chemotherapy and recovered, only to suffer a stroke when he was 11.
“That was hard, too,” the teen said. “There were things I had to re-learn and re-do, but again I think it’s made me better, it’s shaped the person I am.”
Multiple speakers at the ceremony thanked Felsted for being an inspiration in their lives.
Felsted said his story represents hope, drive, discipline and encouragement that anything is possible.
“I think everything from when I was younger has given me good determination and drive and goal-setting,” Felsted said. “Whatever you want to do is possible, really.”