Disabilities Doesn’t Stop Paul Moore Reaching Eagle Rank
It took about 13 years, but over the weekend Paul Moore of Troop 219 was officially awarded his Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.
Moore, who is 23 years old, is a Cassadaga resident. He has had plenty of challenges along the way. “He has seizure disorder and learning disabilities. He has dyslexia,” explained his mother, Kathy Moore.
Biologically, Kathy is his grandmother. She and her husband Dick have raised Paul since he was 2 years old. When Paul was 8 they were given full custody and he was adopted in 2015.
In Boy Scouts, participants must earn their Eagle before their 18th birthday. Exceptions are made for those classified with special needs.
But even though Paul is classifieds with special needs, he still earned the 21 required merit badges. Only one of them — the biking, swimming or hiking merit badge — did he have to get a substitute for. Paul isn’t a swimmer and can’t ride a bike long distances. Individuals who earn their hiking merit badge a required to do a 20-mile day hike, something that would cause Paul to have a seizure. So Paul earned his snow sport merit badge as a permitted substitute.
But all the other ones — citizenships of the nation, world, and community; physical fitness, communication cooking, camping — and many more, Paul earned each and every one. And he went well beyond 21 merit badges.
In fact, to look at Paul’s sash, it’s covered with merit badges earned throughout his Boy Scout career.
“There’s been many hurdles he’s had to get over,” explained Brian Hilliker, the current Scoutmaster of Troop 219. “I’m proud of him.”
Marcus Clark was Paul’s first Scoutmaster. Around 2011, Troop 219 was inactive and Clark, along with about four boys, started the troop back up. That’s when Paul joined in.
Clark noted how Paul has a positive attitude. “He always has the greatest smile,” he said. “He’s optimistic about everything.”
Paul and Dick spent a week every summer at Camp Merz in Mayville, where he earned many of his merit badges. Camp Director Joe Debiso saw Paul’s positive attitude as well.
“Paul has a lot of challenges, but he has gotten past all of them. He’s always worked hard and cheerfully toward all of his goals,” he said. “He’s an example of what a good scout is.”
During a ceremony on Saturday, Paul recited the Boy Scout oath: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight,” he said in front of family and friends as he accepted his Eagle badge, signifying the rank the earned.
Dick, could be seen with a tear in his eye. But Dick isn’t one to talk a lot. “I’m just happy for the whole day,” he said.
But Debiso wasn’t letting Dick off the hook that easily. During the ceremony, he talked about Paul and his father. “I have to give Dick credit,” he said. “To see the two of them walk through this camp all summer long, year after year, from one place to another, … the two of them just trudged through it all summer long. I mean Dick has earned his Eagle along with Paul, believe me.”
Debiso noted that scouts rely on their family. “This family showed us how that really holds true for a lot of people. Paul couldn’t have done it without Dick and Dick couldn’t have done it without Paul,” he said with a smile.
For Paul’s final project, he made a cubby for children in the Wrap program at Park Church, Sinclairville. The cubby is used for children to hang their coats, and store their gloves and hats in the winter. Paul wasn’t responsible for making the cubby by himself; rather he had to plan, and help design and construct the item, overseeing volunteers in helping do the work.
Paul finished his project earlier this summer and was actually the first Allegheny Highlands Boy Scout in 2020 to earn an Eagle award. He and his family decided to hold off the celebration until this fall, because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
County Legislator Mark Odell, who was a former member of Troop 219, applauded Paul and his achievement.
“I’m very proud of him,” he said. “It takes a lot of perseverance and dedication.”
Now that he is an Eagle Scout, Paul said he hopes to help at Camp Merz next summer. He also wants to continue to volunteer his time at church.
Paul believes Scouting has made him a better person. “I learned what to do and what not to do,” he said.