Top flight

Bridesburg native and Troop 120 member attains highest rank in Boys Scouts of America

Ryan Cepregi presents his grandfather with a mentor pin. Pins are given by Eagle Scouts to the individuals who were most influential throughout their scouting career. PHOTO COURTESY OF KELLY MCDADE

By Melissa Komar

Ryan Cepregi has achieved something only one of all the United States presidents has since 1910.

The Bridesburg natives joins an elite group, which comprises approximately 4 percent of all members in the organization.

He has spent years striving toward his goal and, officially realized his dream a month ago.

Cepregi attained Eagle Scout rank for Boy Scouts of America in December and, on Feb. 24, Boy Scouts Troop 120 presented Cepregi, 18, with his Eagle Badge at his “standing-room only” official Eagle Court of Honor Ceremony.

Family, friends, fellow Scouts, state Rep. John Taylor, Councilman Bobby Henon and members of the Bridesburg community came together to celebrate.

Cepregi also received written citations from Mayor Jim Kenney and President Donald Trump.

“It’s weird being part of a statistic, but being it’s such a miniscule one that means so much is great. I love it,” Cepregi said.

Kelly McDade, Cepregi’s mother, is still at a loss for words when talking about his accomplishment and gave a speech on the fly at his ceremony, having spent her time “cooking, decorating, and making sure Ryan’s speech punctuation was OK.”

“I tried signing Ryan up for sports and he was the kid standing on the baseball field with his baseball glove on his head, spinning in circles, throwing dirt at the kid next to him,” McDade said laughing. “My dad did a lot of his Scouting with him. That was their thing. Ryan went to one meeting and he never looked back. When he stood in front of everyone two years ago at the National Merit of Honor ceremony, he said, ‘I’m not stopping here. I’m going to make Eagle.’ And, he did it.”

Cepregi pinned his grandfather, James McDade, 70, during his Eagle Court of Honor, symbolizing his influence on his Scouting experience, and received a new neckerchief and Eagle Scout pin.

And, while attaining the highest rank in Boy Scouts called for both a formal ceremony and a day of celebration with a packed room at American Legion Post 821, the honor was not earned overnight.

Cepregi has dedicated his entire Scouting career since he was 7 to be named to a class above the rest.

Putting in countless hours is a must with the given requirements to attain Eagle Scout.

Any Scout interested in attaining Eagle rank must earn 21 badges.

Badges most recently earned by Cepregi include cooking, personal fitness, emergency preparedness and camping.

“For cooking, I had to cook every meal in my house for at least a week,” Cepregi said. “And, I had to ask how people felt, write out a menu each meal, write a shopping list to calculate costs and go over nutrition for each meal.”

Cepregi made a lot of “chicken parm,” including at his friend’s house on Super Bowl Sunday.

After attaining Eagle, the Scout can earn three palms, merit pins requiring 15 merit badges each, which Cepregi earned, too.

“When I started, I loved it and still do,” Cepregi said. “After I got Eagle, it was the greatest feeling because only 4 percent of Scouts attain Eagle. And, after I got Eagle, I attained all three palms, and it’s rare for that to happen, too.”

And, there’s also the Eagle Scout service project, which requires any Scout who “wants to make Eagle to complete some sort of project that benefits the community while showing leadership.”

Cepregi’s service project was self-run and he organized a Christmas donation drive.

Cepregi accepted donations of new toys, gift cards, cash, new clothes, new blankets, and new pillows and reached out to churches, schools and the Bridesburg Recreation Center to identify families facing financial difficulty

“And, I gave children a Christmas,” Cepregi said. “It was eight families and more than 50 kids. I delivered everything to them personally. And, I delivered Christmas trees to their houses that people donated.”

Being able to make Christmas merry for local families hit home.

“We struggled for a few years. We still got stuff, but we didn’t get a lot,” Cepregi said. “After going through that, I thought, “I really want people to have a Christmas.” It was really great to give these families everything around that time of year.”

The merit badges and service project are only a couple of the requirements needed, as well as the hours, days, months and years spent Scouting.

“Right after I heard about Eagle Scout, my first year as a Cub Scout, I said, ‘I want to get that’ and it took 11 years to get it,” Cepregi said. “I was one of the youngest ever at Pack 120 to get Scout of the Year, I got Scout of the Year from the American Legion Post and I got the National Medal of Merit, which is another one of the highest awards in Scouts and when you show a heroic act of high Scouthood.”

With more than 50 merit badges, including the highest rank, under his Scouting belt, Cepregi is looking toward the future.

Cepregi plans to attend Chestnut Hill College and major in special education for kindergarten through fifth grade.

Family bond: Ryan Cepregi changes younger brother Stephen’s neckerchief to advance during a scouting ceremony a few years ago. PHOTO COURTESY OF KELLY MCDADE

“My brother has Asperger’s,” Cepregi said. “All of my life, I’ve been the main person in our family he talks to. He looks up to me and tries to follow in my footsteps. He’s the main reason I want to go into that field. After seeing what he goes through, I want to help people.”

Helping others has always been part of who Cepregi is, long before he became an Eagle Scout, according to McDade.

“Ryan is just a good kid. Short of not doing homework, which is every teenage boy, I’ve never had an issue. I’ve never had anyone complain,” McDade said. “He goes around to help shovel at his friend’s house. He helps with his younger siblings when I was sick. That’s just who he is.”