Weary of all the bad news dominating the headlines? Eager for a bright spot to restore your hope in humanity?
Meet Tim Burns – a 28-year-old young man from Boy Scout Troop 263 in Dallas, Texas.
Earlier this month, Tim, who was born with Down syndrome, recently achieved the rank of Eagle – the organization’s highest level.
According to their Facebook page, Troop 263 is a “Special Needs only troop that does AMAZING things!!”
While most scouts age out at 18, members of the Dallas chapter are given extra time to work on badges and participate in activities.
”Scouting should be fun,” reflected Tim’s father, Ben. “We learned to camp, cook, hike, swim and do so many activities we never would have done without Scouting. So, in a way, having a disability allowed us to really relax and enjoy the journey.”
The journey to Eagle is steep – and though some waivers were given to substitute some badges and requirements given physical limitations, Burns earned his own way. Over the years, he’s completed 44 merit badges and various service projects.
Down syndrome, also referred to as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder featuring all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. Individuals with this issue encounter a variety of physical and intellectual differences in development.
Tragically, according to the best available data, up to two-thirds of preborn children with Down syndrome are aborted. Several states, including Ohio and South Dakota, have recently passed legislation banning abortions based on a fetal diagnosis of the condition.
We celebrate the legislative protection of these innocent and vulnerable children yet grieve the fact such a thing is even needed in the first place.
Tim Burns’ Eagle badge accomplishment and the full and loving lives of others who have Down syndrome, should stand as testimony to the truth that all life is sacred and of inestimable value.
To abort preborn children with Down syndrome is to deprive the world of tremendous joy – and all on the basis of a deep and wicked lie. This falsehood, that a person with an extra chromosome is somehow second class and unworthy of a chance at life, is a barbaric diminishment of human life.
So, let’s celebrate Tim Burns. By doing so, maybe we can help change hearts and minds.
Years ago, Sharon Sudano attempted to capture the “creed” for those with Down syndrome, writing from the creative perspective of a baby with an extra chromosome:
My face may be different
But my feelings, the same.
I laugh and I cry
And take pride in my gains.
I was sent here among you
To teach you to love,
As God in the Heavens
Looks down from above.
To Him I’m not different,
His love knows no bounds.
It’s those here among you
In cities and towns,
That judge me by standards
That man has imparted,
But this family I’ve chosen
Will help me get started.
For I’m one of the children,
So special and few,
That came here to learn
The same lessons as you.
That love is acceptance,
It must come from the heart;
We all have a purpose
Though not the same start.
The Lord gave me life
To live and embrace,
And I’ll do it as you do
But at my own pace.
Well done, Tim Burns!
Photo courtesy of the Burns family