This week I was invited on Facebook to become a superhero — to raise awareness for Childhood Cancer. Naturally I liked the page so I could be assigned a superhero.
I got Gambit. A mutant subspecies that can create, control and manipulate pure kinetic energy, he carries a deck of cards and uses his powers to charge these cards, then throws them as explosive devices.
I was hung up on Gambit being a man, thinking I should have a female superhero, and decided to sleep on it before updating my picture. When I woke up, another friend, assuming I was without a Facebook superhero alter-ego for Childhood Cancer, appointed me Lois Lane. Although I appreciated being given a female this time, I was now struck that Lois isn’t a superhero. She is just an ordinary person.
With the choice of changing my picture to a mind-controlling man or an ordinary woman, I felt stuck. On one hand, I am a volunteer woman working with Forest Park Cub Scouts — pretty ordinary — but Cub Scouts is for males and it does require leaders who have a certain mind control power to corral a group of 30-50 young, busy boys.
Ordinary people make extraordinary choices every day and can be heroes to someone sometime. Former scouts like Neil Armstrong, Hank Aaron, Michael Bloomberg, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, Harrison Ford, Steve Fossett, Andy Griffith, Bill Gates, Robert M. Gates, Dan Jansen, Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner, John F. Kennedy, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, James Lovell, Michael Moore, Sir Paul McCartney, Barack Obama, Nolan Ryan, Joe Theisman, Steven Spielberg, James Stewart are all ordinary people who have had extraordinary influence in the world.
Forest Park has had Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in town for more than 70 years, although in the 1950s there were packs at each of the six schools (Betsy Ross, Field- Stevenson, Garfield, Grant-White, St. John and St. Bernardine). Each pack had 30-50 young boys and was led by ordinary moms and dads.
Today, Pack 109 is the only Cub Scout Pack in Forest Park and we expect 50 boys this year between first and fifth grade.
When people wax about the days of old, I hear stories of moms leading den meetings in their basements after school, boys completing their mile swim at Camp Shin-Go-Beek with seaweed under their bellies, the charisma of Zygmund “Zyg” Stutz of Circle Bowl and the Thatcher Woods Council.
Our Forest Park Cub Scout Pack 109 has been awarded the Gold Medal Journey to Excellence Recognition for the past four years for our outstanding program. We are funded through three major sources: Peanuts, Popcorn, and Pancakes.
Kiwanis Peanut days kicks off this weekend and the hundreds of families in Little League, Soccer, Windmills, Historical Society, Friends of the Library, PMSA Key Club, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts will be volunteering to collect spare change, dollar bills and kind words from every car that passes through Forest Park.
For the next few weeks Cub Scouts will be out selling popcorn. This is our biggest funding source and fuels our scouting year. Last year our raised $5,000 from selling popcorn, $900 from our pancake breakfast and $750 from Kiwanis. We spent $250 per scout last year and are planning on doing the same this year.
Cub Scout Pack 109 gives opportunities to all Forest Park boys to learn leadership skills, structure and to be role models for our future generations. We camp, fish, tie knots, visit the police station and firehouse, build confidence and character, engineer pinewood derby cars and regatta boats, and learn how to have fun despite being covered in mosquitos.
Our Peanut, Popcorn and Pancake funds go toward uniforms, manuals, outdoor events in the winter and summer, fund the Blue and Gold Banquet, camping trips, den supplies, materials and presentation for pack events.
When a scout is selling “popcorn” or “peanuts” or “pancakes,” he is selling something far greater than that food item. He is raising a full year of extraordinary lessons in confidence, leadership, social skills, community, loyalty and service before self. The real heroes are the extraordinary people who can look beyond the bag of peanuts, popcorn or stack of pancakes and understand that they are supporting a cause far greater than the token food item.
So if you see a scout or volunteer with a can for Kiwanis, a scout at your doorstep with popcorn in the next couple weeks, consider being a local hero and generously support our community.