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Eagle Scout gives back to thank Sharp staff

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BENEFACTORS --Zac Lewis, fourth from right, is surrounded by friends and family who helped him produce slide boards. From left they are Markus Unterberg, owner of San Diego Woodworking, brother Ian St. Louis, Andres Sheikh, Kendall Condon, Austin Farmer, Zac, his sister Alice Anne-Carriere, and parents Anne St. Louis and Dan St. Louis

By Sara Appel-Lennon

Sara Appel-Lennon

SAN DIEGO — Last June, University City High School  student Zac St. Louis explored volunteering options for his Eagle Scout Leadership Service  Project, coming upon The Ranchero Fund, which offers medical  equipment to paralyzed patients with no health insurance.

St. Louis learned  that Rebecca and Niel Pollock started The Ranchero Fund after Niel  Pollock became a paraplegic following a surfing accident. In lieu of  wedding gifts, the couple asked for financial donations to the fund.

St. Louis said The Ranchero Fund builds and donates “slide transfer boards” to help spinal cord injury  patients move from a wheelchair to a bed or car. He told his  mother that if he could make 100 slide transfer boards, he would help  100 people.

Last September, St. Louis surpassed his goal by donating 120  slide transfer boards to Sharp Rehabilitation Services. He organized and  led a team of Boy Scouts to create the boards to fulfill the rigors of the Eagle Scout  Leadership Service Project. St. Louis has become an Eagle Scout, the  highest rank in Scouting.

Annually Sharp Healthcare staff honors a  handful of former patients with the Victories of Spirit Awards because  of their courage and strength in volunteering in the community after  experiencing a difficult setback themselves. Dave Brown, System Director  of Rehabilitation Services, will present one of these awards to St.  Louis at the 20th annual event on June 4 at the Hilton San  Diego Bay Front.

“How many 17-year-old kids do this any  more?” asked Brown. “He’s a wonderful example of kids, the power of  kids, and wanting to make a difference. It’s quite remarkable.”

Why St. Louis chose  to volunteer at Sharp Healthcare became clear in an essay he wrote for his Eagle Scout  Leadership Service Project. He wanted to express gratitude to Sharp  staff in a tangible way for the excellent medical care his mother  received after a near-fatal  car accident in 2003. It was caused by a driver who failed to  stop at a red light. St. Louis was in the car along with his mother and  two siblings.

“I had blocked the accident out of my mind. My mom was so close  to dying. It was a crazy time. …This was my only way to give back to  them for helping my mom. You can’t really thank them enough for what  they did,” said St. Louis.
Mom Anne St. Louis added, “I’m smiling. It’s  all good.”

St. Louis devoted last summer to the project so it would not  conflict with school. The work entailed getting quotes from wood  workers, buying supplies, cutting wood, sanding, applying lacquer, the  logo, and creating a template. He managed a team of Scouts working  sanding parties in an assembly line. He did not sign his initials on any  of the boards.

To raise money for the project, St. Louis made presentations to Cabrillo Club and Portuguese Social and Civic Club where he discussed  how he would help people and why he needed the money. Both groups  donated $500. He needed to raise $2,500, and he raised $500 extra.

A patient who  received one of the boards said, “I thought only a ‘wuss’ would use a  transfer board. … For almost 39 years, I never used (one.) I guess time  has caught up with me, now I realize it would have been smart to use a  transfer board before.”

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This article appeared previously in La Jolla Light

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