Eagle Scout honor emotional for Beckman family

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Zach Beckman of Jasper raised his arms after reciting the Eagle Scout Oath during his Eagle Scout Court of Honor at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Jasper on Sunday. Beckman has Down syndrome and his father, Dean Beckman, of Jasper said that "Zach's always wanted to be like everybody else. He sees his brother get his Eagle Scout, he sees lots of our friends, a lot of Eagle Scouts as great role models, and he wants to be just like everybody else. Thats why this is so important to him."


JASPER — Moments before and after Zach Beckman was awarded the title of Eagle Scout at Holy Family Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon, the Jasper native held his arms over his head and pumped them to the sky.

It was a special moment for the 25-year-old man who was born with Down syndrome, and it marked an overwhelming milestone for family and friends closest to him.

When he started his journey with the scouts in 2009, no one knew if he’d be able to achieve the organization’s highest honor.

Now, he has spread his wings and soared higher than anyone ever thought possible.

Zach’s father, Dr. Dean Beckman, said his son knows he is different, but he wants to be like everyone else. Dad said Holy Family Boy Scout Troop 185 members and leadership worked with Zach every step of the way for the past decade to help him earn the 21 merit badges required and complete the long list of other prerequisites of becoming an Eagle Scout.

“It shows that anybody can do this,” Dr. Beckman said of his son’s accomplishment before Sunday’s Court of Honor ceremony.

Zach waited to greet guests before his Eagle Scout Court of Honor at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Jasper on Sunday. Beckman's mother Vickie Beckman of Jasper said that before the ceremony, "he was nervous. He was kinda wringing his hands."

The Boy Scouts of America allows adults with disabilities, such as Down syndrome, to join or remain a scout past their 18th birthday. Buffalo Trace Council Scout Executive John Harding said after Sunday’s ceremony that while the total number of Eagle Scouts with Down syndrome is not tracked, it is a rare accomplishment. The last time Troop 185 produced one was in 1950.

“It’s a rarity,” Harding said. “It’s unique to begin with. And to have him active and participating in the program (and) for him to achieve this is amazing. Fantastic. We can’t be happier.”

During the ceremony, Troop 185 Scoutmaster Fred Feltner explained that he and Dr. Beckman developed a strategic plan, including a timeline that mapped out the completion of merit badges and other requirements. Zach regularly attended weekly troop meetings, camps, and engaged in private lessons with the scoutmaster. Dr. Beckman and his wife, Vickie, also taught their son merit badges from home.

As Zach’s younger brother, Reece, worked up the ranks to his own Eagle Scout award in 2012, Zach decided he wanted to get there, too.

Zach earned his Eagle Scout Award after completing his Eagle Scout Project: weather-proofing, insect-proofing, and landscaping around the Holy Family Church Gazebo at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Jasper.

“We just started looking at what we could do and just taking one step a time,” Dr. Beckman said. “It took us a lot longer, but in the end, he accomplished it.”

Zachary’s Eagle Scout Service Project focused on weatherproofing the gazebo in the Holy Family courtyard and installing landscaping in the area in September. Reece built the gazebo as his Eagle Scout project.

Zachary said his favorite parts about the scouting program are the ceremonies and earning merit badges. He likes camping at Patoka Lake and plans on staying involved in the troop moving forward. He is the seventh member of his immediate family to earn the title of Eagle Scout. He also rides horses at Freedom Reins Therapeutic Riding Center and participates in the Special Olympics, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a server at Holy Family Catholic Church and helps out with the Jasper Football team.

Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz read a proclamation at Sunday’s ceremony recognizing Zach’s hard work, good citizenship and good character. After the ceremony, attendees lined up from the entrance of the sanctuary to shake Zachary’s hand and congratulate him. It was an emotional day for his parents, who recalled throughout the ceremony the many people who helped their son and never turned him down.

“No one has ever said, ‘Hey Zach, I don’t think you can do it,’” Dr. Beckman said before the ceremony. “They say, ‘Zach, we’ll work with you.’”

After his Eagle Scout Court of Honor, Zach, center, posed with siblings Reece Beckman of Jasper, left, and Allie Beckman Sadowitz of Indianapolis at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Jasper on Sunday. "We know with Zach, he's never going to own a car, he's never going to own a house or build a house, or get married," said Beckman's father Dean. "So this is his big day."


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