2017-11-09 / Living

Eagle Scout project brings happiness to individuals diagnosed with autism

BY TANYA TERY
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com


As part of an Eagle Scout project, Ronald Mraz, age 17, recently constructed a gaga ball pit at the Autism Support and Resource Center, on Dort Highway. Mraz said scouting has taught him to be a leader and to be trustworthy, loyal, respectful and kind. 
Photo provided. As part of an Eagle Scout project, Ronald Mraz, age 17, recently constructed a gaga ball pit at the Autism Support and Resource Center, on Dort Highway. Mraz said scouting has taught him to be a leader and to be trustworthy, loyal, respectful and kind. Photo provided. BURTON — For an Eagle Scout project, Ronald Mraz, age 17, recently constructed a gaga ball pit at the Autism Support and Resource Center, located on Dort Highway. Mraz, who said he knew people diagnosed with autism, is a senior at Grand Blanc High School. He hopes to become an engineer.

“I knew someone who worked at the center and has a son that goes there,” Mraz said. “Her son is in my troop. So, I knew they wanted a gaga ball pit. It worked out because that was something I could do.”

In addition to his troop member, Mraz knows other people with autism.

“I understand the needs of people diagnosed with autism and the things they like to do for activities,” Mraz said.

Mraz had previous affiliation with the center.

“My church has a thing called Mission Makeover,” he said. “Through it, they redid the walls for the center. I was a photographer for that event.”

The center had a playground before the gaga ball pit was built there.

“Some of the older kids didn’t use the playground as much because they thought it was for littler kids,” Mraz said. “The gaga ball pit is something anyone can use, though.”

Mraz joined his troop in 2011. He started with Cub Scouts in about first grade and explained the planning for the project took about two weeks because he had to work the planning process into the schedule he already had.

Mraz had to have a fundraising application, which had to be approved by the scoutmaster of the troop and the beneficiary of the project, in this case the Autism Support and Resource Center.

Mraz wrote a letter asking for donations from the Knights of Columbus at his church, which does a lot of good for the community. The organization wrote a check for $500, which is how Mraz received most of the funding for the project.

Construction took about three weeks, with one construction day a week. Each day, volunteers helped for about six hours.

“Somedays it was just me and my dad,” Mraz said. “I don’t normally do projects like that. So, it was different to do a project like that. But, it was fun spending time with my dad.”

A lot of Mraz’s friends from the school marching band came to help, too.

“It was really cool they came,” Mraz said.

The group went to Home Depot to buy all the material, and saved money by changing some material. They then went to Mraz’s grandfather’s garage and cut the wood to the right length, which took about six to seven hours.

The next construction day, they brought all the pieces to the center and laid them roughly where they should be and built the wall, then laid down sand in the pit. A week later, they finished by sanding the walls down and trimming the weed barrier down. About a week later, Mraz showed up to a Friday social night.

“I brought kickballs and even played a few games with the kids,” Mraz said. “I remember social night really well and seeing the impact the project had. All the hard work paid off.”

The project was required as part of a multistep process required for Mraz to accomplish his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout.

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