‘He wanted to earn it’Published 10:28pm Tuesday, May 6, 2014
As Harris Fisher progressed through the Boy Scouts toward the coveted Eagle Scout badge, the 21-year-old with Down syndrome considered giving up several times.
George Fisher said that his son, who started with the Scouts when he was 8 or 9, would miss four or five meetings in a row.
“When that would happen, the leader at that particular level would give a call and ask if Harris was still interested,” he said.
The inquiries always made it clear that Troop 16 Driver, which meets at Beech Grove United Methodist Church, didn’t want to lose someone they considered a valuable member, according to George Fisher.
“I would say that through the course of the years … four or five times, he was on the verge of stopping,” he said, “and each time there was a member in the troop that stepped up and kept him involved.”
On Sunday, Harris Fisher and volunteers finished his Eagle Scout project at Nansemond River High School, his alma mater.
Now, during baseball games at the ball field at the back of the school, players wait to face the pitcher sitting on proper benches, rather than planks on cinderblocks.
Harris Fisher was manager of the junior varsity team and later became a batboy, according to George Fisher. “My son loves baseball,” he added. “I think it’s the camaraderie.”
Dennis Garrett, Troop 16’s committee chairman, said that the boys on the baseball team have always accepted Harris Fisher. “He’s just one of them,” he said.
“And the coaches have been very supportive and helpful,” George Fisher added.
Thomas McLemore, principal at Nansemond River, had suggested that Harris Fisher consult the baseball coach, Mark Stuffel, about an appropriate Eagle Scout project, Garrett said.
“He (Stuffel) liked the idea of getting some benches out here, and he showed Harris where he would like to have the benches built,” Garrett added.
After Harris Fisher devised some initial plans, his formal proposal was approved. Then he come up with more detailed plans and went shopping for materials.
Chuckatuck’s Saunders Supply Company offered a good deal on materials, Garrett said, and the Bennett’s Creek SERTOMA Club — of which George Fisher is a member — donated $282 toward their purchase.
About five volunteers got together on the afternoon of Sunday, April 27 to cut the wood and build the two benches, Garrett said, and last Sunday five scouts and five adult troop leaders spent about 2-1/2 hours installing them at the ball field.
Harris Fisher led the project, Garrett said, directing the members of his team.
“It’s a touchy situation giving peers directions, and this is probably the first time in their life this happens,” he said.
“Harris handled that very well.”
Harris Fisher received no concession on account of his Down syndrome, Garrett said.
“He could have taken shortcuts, given his condition, but he didn’t want to talk about shortcuts,” he said. “He wanted to earn it.”