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Going the Distance: Newest Eagle Scout's journey full of challenges

DeKALB - Scott Miller recently received Scouting's highest honor, the Eagle Scout Award.

He is Boy Scout Troop 33's newest Eagle Scout. Miller's long journey through Scouting has been filled with great challenges and adrenalin-pumping excitement. Twelve years ago as a young boy, Miller suffered a severe injury, ripping apart the lower portion of his left leg down to the bone. In the emergency room, surgeons stopped counting after sewing the first 200 stitches into Miller's shredded leg, adding another 20 surgical staples to close his wound. They were unsure whether he would ever regain the full use of his leg. The next year, Miller joined Cub Pack 131 as an eager Tiger Cub. He continued as a Cub Scout, eventually earning his Arrow of Light Award. He was excited about the prospect of becoming a Boy Scout and doing great outdoor adventures. He joined Troop 33 in DeKalb, sponsored by the First Lutheran Church. Miller attended summer camps like other boys his age, but he was determined to go the extra distance to participate in high adventure. He tried out for the Iron Man Crew, a long-distance biking program for older boys. To qualify, he had to bike 100 miles in a day, keeping pace with the teenage riders in the group. Miller qualified for the Iron Man Crew at age 11 and soon was on his way bicycling 375 miles to St. Paul, Minn. In the following years, he biked 550 miles across Montana and the Dakotas, then another 240 miles to St. Paul, then 500 miles across New England to the Maine coastline, then 240 miles along the Mississippi river from St. Louis to Memphis, and his last ride, 530 miles across the Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana. He biked nearly 2,500 miles plus thousands more training and conditioning miles. Miller also enjoyed winter adventures, backpacking and snowshoeing in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan with more snowshoe and dog sledding adventures in Ontario, Canada. On one trip, he snowshoed along Lake Superior to a wilderness campsite high on a bluff where he and other Scouts built snow quinzee shelters to sleep in subzero weather. In Wisconsin, he enjoyed skiing, snowmobile trips and ice boating. Travels in Mexico included snorkeling coral reefs at Cozumel, touring large colonial cities, body surfing at pristine Caribbean beaches and exploring ancient Mayan ruins. Scott climbed the great pyramid of El Castillo for a bird's-eye view of Chichen Itza. He visited many great American cities ranging from Seattle to New York. He toured New York City twice, once before and once after 9/11. On his last trip, he visited Ground Zero and talked with firefighters who responded to the World Trade Center disaster. Miller climbed Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire and hiked trails in the shadow of Mount St. Helens in Washington. He rafted the Stillwater River in Montana, explored Jewel Cave and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, stood at the battlefield of the Little Bighorn and gazed up at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. He visited Yellowstone, Olympic, North Cascades and Badlands National Parks. Throughout his Scouting years, Miller learned about leadership while serving as a Quartermaster, Senior Patrol Leader and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. He was crew leader for many of the high adventure trips, always leading by example and never backing away from any challenge. Challenges have been ever present - a tornado in North Dakota, a white-out in Michigan's UP, -53 degree wind chills along Lake Superior and 100-plus degrees in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Miller's Eagle Service project involved expanding the picnic area at Nehring Forest Preserve by removing an overgrown area of brush and small trees. He is a member of First Lutheran Church in DeKalb and a 2004 graduate of DeKalb High School, where he earned varsity letters in cross-country and track. He attended Kishwaukee College this fall and is entering an advanced electronics program with the U.S. Navy, where he'll no doubt be experiencing many more adventures. Twelve years ago, doctors fretted over whether a young boy would ever regain full use of his severely shredded leg. Little could they have imagined what adventures lay ahead for that determined little boy and just how far that leg would take him.

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