Top honors for Fresh Meadows ‘Scouter’

Steven Thomas Marchia, 20, recently earned the Eagle Court of Honor with Troop 55, a symbol of achievement within the Boy Scout ranks.

However, unlike most scouts, Marchia is afflicted with cerebral palsy, attention deficit hyperactive disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

He was awarded the distinction at Holy Family Roman Catholic School in Fresh Meadows on Saturday, January 29. Since Marchia is over 18, he is known as a "Scouter," an adult leader within the organization.

“I started at age 7 to age 20, I’m still going to continue,” said Marchia, who donned 35 merit badges, each a marker of his knowledge in various disciplines including reptiles and amphibians study, personal fitness and communications.

“I feel great, of course, it’s a big honor,” he said.

He began as a cub scout, climbing through the levels of tender foot, second class, first class, star, life and finally eagle. To become an Eagle Scout, there are required core badges, as well as elective badges.

“The 12 required ones are related to the core competencies of the boy scout movement as far as citizenship, character and fitness,” said Steven Schwartzberg, Scoutmaster of Troop 55.

Before rising to an Eagle Scout, candidates must also perform a community service project. Marchia worked with the Salvation Army, gathering one and a half tons of clothing for donation.

“Steven has persevered, he has certain limitations because of his disability,” said Schwartzberg. “But he did not ever let that get in the way.”

To proceed to the first class rank, scouts must complete, among other requirements, a 100-yard swim. Marchia completed the beginner’s swim for second class, but the latter swim proved to be impossible because of his disability, said Schwartzberg.

In place, the Boy Scout council allowed Marchia to perform a 20-mile hike as an alternative, the scoutmaster said. Several fellow scouts in Troop 55 set up check points along Marchia’s route to encourage him and keep him going.

“I was very proud of what the troop did,” said Schwartzberg. “It goes right to the spirit of helping your fellow man.”

Marchia currently attends Queensborough Community College and is studying liberal arts. He hopes to become a special education Kindergarten teacher, something he wished to pursue because of his own disabilities.

Michael Sciortino, a star scout in the same troop, has known Marchia for 10 years.

“He’s really been a source of inspiration,” said Sciortino, 16. “To see how he was advancing, it was always a great way to see where we could go.”

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