Members of Scout Troop 281 in Dallas have had a difficult year. They have had to deal with the loss of a friend, classmate and fellow Scout Thomas Lynch who died in a car accident on his way to school on Feb. 3
An Eagle Scout from Dallas, Lynch continues to positively affect his peers, his troop and Scouting.
To achieve the rank of Eagle, a Scout must meet three qualifications. He must have tenure, he must have met the badge requirements and he must complete a leadership-based community service project, all before he reaches the age of 18.
Thomas Lynch accomplished those tasks. Casey McAndrew from Boy Scout Troop 155 in Trucksville had not.
McAndrew considered dropping out of Scouting after spending months trying to decide on an appropriate project to take him to the next level. With time running out, he was discouraged. "I had a lot of trouble finding an Eagle project," he said.
When McAndrew learned that his childhood friend Lynch had left behind an unfinished Scouting project, he knew what he had to do.
The project was to build information kiosks at three locations on the Back Mountain Trail. Lynch had completed the planning, approvals and fundraising. "You couldn't say no to Tom," troop leaders joked about Lynch. Lynch had also designed the kiosks prior to his passing and successfully installed the first at the Trucksville Fire Hall entrance to the Back Mountain Trail.
Troop leader Bob Pilger, whose son, Dylan, was a fellow Scout of Lynch's, assisted Lynch with the project. When Dylan learned that McAndrew was having difficulty finding an Eagle project, he suggested his father talk to McAndrew about the project Lynch had left behind.
McAndrew whole-heartedly took over Lynch's project and dedicated his share of the project to Lynch. McAndrew admitted the project was a lot of work, but he knows it was worth it.
"Just knowing Tom, you get to know these kids in a special way," said Pilger. "And knowing that someone else picked up where he left off is huge."
McAndrew and helpers completed the second kiosk at the Carverton Road entrance. The third is planned for a section of trail not yet completed.
In a special dedication ceremony on Sept.15, the first site, completed by Lynch, was dedicated to the leaders of Boy Scout Troop 281. The second site, completed by McAndrew, was dedicated to the memory of Thomas Lynch.
"I was very happy and I think Tom would have been very happy," said Liz Lynch, Lynch's mother. "Casey will always have a special place in my heart because he did this."
Troop leaders and Scouts agreed that Thomas Lynch was a person of great character. "Even in his death, he is helping other kids to complete their goals," said Carla Pilger.
Troop members had tie-dyed shirts made to be the official B uniform of the troop, in memory of their friend Lynch who always wore tie-dyed pajama pants on camping trips. "He liked to stand out," said the younger Pilger.
"Tom continues to impact lives," said Ron Santora, Scout Master for Troop 281. "That's his legacy. This is a brotherhood of Scouting. It doesn't matter what troop you are in. I think it says a lot about the program of Scouting," said Santora.
McAndrew has almost completed all of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout with Troop 281. He still has some fundraising to complete but is well on his way.
"When Tom had the accident, we lost an Eagle Scout," Liz Lynch said. "But we also gained an Eagle Scout."