|(Photo by Richard Greenhouse)
Of the 17 recipients of the 1999 Congressional Award Gold
Medal, five are Boy Scouts. Shown with Douglas S. Smith, Jr.,
Director of Program for the Boy Scouts of America, who was
on hand to assist in the presentation of the Awards, the Gold
recipients are Christopher Alford, 26, of Park City, KY; Scott
Burright, 20, of Grinnell, IA; Amanda McGee, 23, of
Oregon City, OR; Paul Ellison, 23, of Springfield, VA; and
Christopher Kruse, 17, of Platte City, MO.
Medals Presented in Statuary Hall of Capitol
permission of the Congressional Award.
Washington, DC-Five Boy Scouts
received the highest honor Congress bestows upon young people in a ceremony presided over
by the Joint Leadership of Congress. A total of 17 young adults received the Gold
Congressional Award yesterday in Statuary Hall in recognition of their distinguished
public service and personal development initiatives. The Medals were presented -by Members
of Congress. Also on hand was Douglas S. Smith, Jr., National Director of Program for the
Boy Scouts of America.
Signed into law in 1979, the Congressional Award is designed to promote
and recognize initiative, achievement, and excellence among youth. The Award is open to
all young people between 14 and 23 who set and achieve goals in four areas: public
service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration. They must set
challenging goals for the betterment of themselves and their communities, regardless of
physical, mental or socioeconomic circumstances.
Christopher Alford, 26, of Park City, KY, served as a Boy Scout
Scoutmaster. For personal development, he enhanced his skills in artwork, using these
skills to design logos for nonprofits. For physical fitness, Christopher improved his golf
techniques by strengthening his arms and body. His expedition was a six-day, five-night
backpacking trip. He said of his experiences in the Congressional Award program, "The
most important thing I learned was, with dedication and a little hard work, you will
succeed at all things you undertake."
Scott Burright, 20, of Grinnell, IA, completed more than 600 hours of
service while working for his Gold Award. He was a staff member at a Boy Scout Camp. Scott
also played a critical leadership role with Habitat for Humanity in Grinnell. To satisfy
the personal development component of the Award, he held a part-time job while attending
college full-time. For physical fitness, he set and achieved goals on his way to earning
his letters in track and cross country. He went to Downe, England for the expedition.
Scott said of his experiences in earning this most prestigious Award, "By giving of
myself, I have learned how to help others have a better life that is very gratifying to
all. By participating in the program, I have grown immensely psychologically, physically
and emotionally. I've learned that the positives in life are far more powerful in life
than the negatives in people."
Paul Ellison, 23, of Springfield, VA, served underprivileged
individuals and families in his community. He organized and participated in projects that
included helping with yard work, house maintenance and teaching children with learning
disabilities. He devoted himself to his religious teachings for personal development. His
physical fitness goal was to design a fitness regime that would improve his overall
health. He went on an expedition on the Mormon Trail where he learned more about his
ancestors and his religion. "With such a large country I believe that opportunities
to help others abound. This is what I learned while earning the Congressional Award-that
the need is great," said Paul.
Christopher Kruse, 17, of Platte City, MO is a past recipient of both
Bronze and Silver Congressional Awards. He volunteered at the Heritage Village Senior
Citizen Home. He also assisted the disabled in his community where his responsibilities
included facilitating dances, art projects and field trips. For personal development,
Christopher learned to play all of the scales on a trumpet and played a solo at a district
competition. For physical fitness, he challenged himself to improve his weight lifting
ability and improve his endurance for roller blading. For his expedition, he backpacked
for five days and four nights in state parks. "I have realized the importance of
goals, planning how to carry out goals and what it takes to achieve the goals that I have
set," he said.
Amanda McGee, 23, of Oregon City, is an assistant Scout Master. She
performed very specialized public service. She volunteered as a living historian. By
serving at Civil War reenact