Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Teen who beat long medical odds among Burlington’s new Eagle Scouts

A newly-minted Eagle Scout would be enough to send the heart of any doting mother aflutter. But for area resident Marsha Slade, there was something particularly moving when her son, Brendon Brown, was recognized Tuesday night by Burlington’s city council for his attainment of the highest honor in scouting.

In fact, the rigors of a scout’s daily routine must’ve seemed like an impossible fantasy when Slade first cradled her son as an infant some 18 years ago.

As the young man’s mother recalls, Brendon was born with a crippling injury to his branchial plexus – a bundle of nerves that’s responsible for movement and sensory processes in the upper extremities. The prognosis, according to Slade, was just about as bad as it gets at that formative stage of his life.

“He wasn’t expected to walk or talk,” Slade recounted when she and her son visited Burlington’s city hall for a special ceremony on Tuesday. “He was supposed to be blind and was supposed to be fed through a tube.”

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Slade credits much of Brendon’s subsequent improvement to his pediatrician, Dr. David Stein, although the young man’s own grit seems to have also contributed to the full and stimulating life that he now leads.

In his career as a Boy Scout, for instance, Brendon managed to overcome his own difficulties in order to serve others who face the much different, yet equally debilitating, affliction of homelessness. In order to obtain the rank of Eagle, the young man even constructed an outdoor sitting area for residents of the homeless shelter that Allied Churches of Alamance County operates in Burlington.

In addition to his achievements in scouting, Brendon exerted himself on the basketball court and the soccer field while he was enrolled as a student at the Clover Garden charter school near Altamahaw. The 18-year-old was also among Clover Garden’s latest crop of high school graduates and is now preparing to embark on his collegiate career at Appalachian State University.

But as far as he’s come, this rising college freshman is savvy enough to know whom to credit when the credit for his achievements is due.

“I keep pushing myself,” he acknowledged before Tuesday’s recognition, “and my family also inspires me.”

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