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Boy Scout walking for awareness, toward Eagle rank

  • Friday, April 18, 2014

Provided Members of Boy Scouts Troop 2 celebrate after completing their 50-mile hike that raised money for bladder cancer research.

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At 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 3, most 13-year-olds will be asleep.

But Summerville’s Joe Justis will be standing outside Town Hall, organizing fellow Boy Scouts of America from Troop 2, and helping direct the public to the bladder cancer awareness walk he is organizing.

The walk is Joe’s Eagle Scout service project, an event he must complete in order to be promoted to the prestigious rank.

The walk is in honor of his late grandmother, Beverly Justis, who was supportive of the Boy Scouts and died of bladder cancer in January 2013 at the age of 79.

“I thought if I’m going to do an Eagle Scout project I want to do something that’s going to mean something to me,” Joe said.

There are multiple levels of criteria a scout has to meet before being eligible to go before the Eagle Scout Board of Review. Joe has several steps left, but said he couldn’t let this May 3 pass him by; nationally, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) awareness walks take place on the first Saturday of May.

“My goal is to have 100 people participate,” he said. He is also hoping to provide participants t-shirts, drawstring backpacks and water bottles.

The event will include a two-mile awareness walk, a presentation on warning signs and symptoms of the disease, and “hopefully,” Joe said, a talk from an urologist or a bladder cancer survivor.

The scout said advertising the warning signs is the most important part of the program.

“The walk will let people know about the warning signs… There could be another 13-year-old boy out there and if that boy gets more time with his grandma because of this then it’s worth it.

“I want people to leave the event and know that bladder cancer is serious,” he said.

Registration for the event is taking place online, at www.bcan.org, until April 23. Normally the BCAN walks are designed to raise awareness and money for the cause, but Eagle Scout projects are not allowed to raise money. Joe said everyone who wishes to participate in the walk should use the code “BSA2014” to waive the registration fee.

Online registration will ensure participants receive an event t-shirt and other favors, but if someone misses the registration date they may still participate, Joe said.

Outside of the walk, Joe said he hopes putting on a successful Eagle Scout service project and reaching the rank at a young age will inspire others in his troop.

“Eagle Scout isn’t just a badge,” he said.

Joe’s dad is the Scoutmaster of Troop 2 and was also an Eagle Scout, which Joe said inspired him to reach the rank as well.

The maximum age for Boy Scouts is 18, so most scouts reach Eagle nearer to that age. Joe is only 13, a student at Rollings Middle School of the Arts, but he’s been scouting since first grade, making 2014 his seventh year.

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