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Not just another merit badge
by Jessica Carner
Feb 06, 2011 | 4915 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Jessica Carner
Marilyn Kramer of Washoe County Reprographics printed tags for blankets that say, "Made especially for you by Boy Scout Troop 14. May this always keep you warm. 1910-2011, celebrating 101 years of scouting with 101 blankets."
Tribune/Jessica Carner Marilyn Kramer of Washoe County Reprographics printed tags for blankets that say, "Made especially for you by Boy Scout Troop 14. May this always keep you warm. 1910-2011, celebrating 101 years of scouting with 101 blankets."
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Tribune/Jessica Carner
A group of volunteers shows off some of the blankets they made Saturday to help Chris Cummings (bottom row, second from right) complete an Eagle Scout project. The blankets will be given to patients being treated for cancer at Renown.
Tribune/Jessica Carner A group of volunteers shows off some of the blankets they made Saturday to help Chris Cummings (bottom row, second from right) complete an Eagle Scout project. The blankets will be given to patients being treated for cancer at Renown.
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Tribune/Jessica Carner
The Cummings family, Tami, Chris, Matthew and Joe make a blanket Saturday morning at Beasley Elementary School. As part of an Eagle Scout project, Chris enlisted the help of family and friends to make 101 blankets for Renown Institute for Cancer.
Tribune/Jessica Carner The Cummings family, Tami, Chris, Matthew and Joe make a blanket Saturday morning at Beasley Elementary School. As part of an Eagle Scout project, Chris enlisted the help of family and friends to make 101 blankets for Renown Institute for Cancer.
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Tribune/Jessica Carner - Chris, Matthew and Joe Cummings make a blanket Saturday morning at Beasley Elementary School. As part of an Eagle Scout project, Chris enlisted the help of family and friends to make 101 blankets for Renown Institute for Cancer.
Tribune/Jessica Carner - Chris, Matthew and Joe Cummings make a blanket Saturday morning at Beasley Elementary School. As part of an Eagle Scout project, Chris enlisted the help of family and friends to make 101 blankets for Renown Institute for Cancer.
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SPARKS — In August, 14-year-old Chris Cummings embarked on a mission to give back to a local medical facility that helped save the life of his younger brother, Matthew, 9.

Cummings is working to earn his Eagle Scout ranking, the highest honor a Boy Scout can achieve. In order to earn Eagle Scout status, a scout must plan and execute a large-scale service project.

Cummings said while making a blanket for one of his mother’s friends, he and his family came up with an idea to make 101 blankets for Renown Institute for Cancer.

Why Renown and why 101 blankets?

“We are making 101 blankets in honor of 101 years of scouting,” Cummings said.

Tami Cummings explained her son chose to craft blankets for Renown’s cancer patients as a way of repaying the institute for the life-saving medical care that was given to Matthew. At the age of 3, Matthew required cerebral surgery to remedy an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

According to the National Institutes for Health, AVM is an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain that usually forms before birth. The condition can cause stroke caused by bleeding into the brain, and treatment is very risky.

“He was supposed to die, but he didn’t,” Chris said. “Afterwards he became the delegate for the Children’s Miracle Network for Nevada.”

“A miracle occurred,” Tami said.

Chris was 5 years old when Matthew became Nevada’s CMN delegate, and for the next two years, the family was highly involved in the organization’s activities.

“Chris grew up with hospitals and has a different perspective,” Tami said.

“When Chris was thinking of this project, he thought it would be a good way to give back to Renown,” said his father Joe, who also serves as Boy Scout Troop 14 leader.

Chris said he contacted Joel Muller of CMN and Linda Ferris, vice president of Renown Institute for Cancer, and presented them with a proposal outlining the details of his project.

“I had to go down and give a power point presentation,” Chris said. “Afterward, they gave me a check for $1,000 to purchase materials for the blankets. Then a week later, they sent me another $1,000.”

When the Cummings family took the $2,000 to Hancock Fabrics to purchase enough fleece to make 101 reversible blankets, the store manager surprised them by discounting the price of the fabric by 75 percent.

“The manager, Sandy, gave me an extra 15 percent off,” Chris said, as he explained the fleece already had been marked down 60 percent. “What was supposed to be $3,000 turned into $1,200. It was a huge savings, so we were able to buy all the scissors and everything at Hancock as well.”

“The rest of the money will go back to Renown for the cancer institute,” Tami said.

On Saturday, the Cummings, their family, friends and Boy Scout Troop 14 members gathered at Beasley Elementary School to assemble the blankets.

“We’re hoping to get them all made today,” Chris said.

Joe explained one of the requirements of the Eagle Scout project is that the scout must plan the logistics carefully. In this case, Chris had to calculate the amount of time and number of people needed to complete 101 blankets in one day.

“We have plenty of people and time today,” Chris said.

The Cummings family said they are very grateful to Beasley’s vice principal, Bryan Myers, who opened the doors of the school to them free of charge so they would have space enough to make the blankets.

“Normally the facility rents for a few hundred dollars for the day,” Chris said. “But he rented it to us for free.”

“He is here all day just so we can be here,” Tami said. “We just love that man.”

The family also is appreciative of the owners of Pizza Baron, who provided lunch on Saturday.

“It definitely takes a village (to complete a project of this size),” Tami said.

Chris said, to him, the project is about more than just another scouting merit.

“When this is done, I will feel accomplished,” Chris said. “It’s not just a badge. It is good to know it is going to such a good cause.”

Patients undergoing chemotherapy tend to be very cold, Chris said. He hopes his blankets will give them comfort.

“If you have a blanket, you are able to stay warm in the hospital,” he said. “But then you get to take it home and remember that’s what helped you.”
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