A passion for animals and a hefty dose of ingenuity earned Boy Scout Nico Cheke the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program: Eagle Scout.
Nico is a member of Troop 147, sponsored by St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and a sophomore at Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center in Paradise Valley. He had a high bar to reach for, as scouts must earn 21 merit badges (13 of which need to be Eagle specific), plus a community project to obtain the honor.
Badges cover a wide range of categories, such as life skills, hobbies, sports, nature and future careers. Eagle Scout badges take things up a notch, as they are more physically and intellectually demanding.
For his community project, Nico approached the LovePup Foundation in Phoenix. Their mission and focus are to rescue dogs in need.
“Nico has always been animal-centric,” said dad, Dan Cheke, who is also the troop’s Scoutmaster. “LovePup was a perfect match, as it’s an organization that shares his love for animals.”
LovePup proprietor Johnjay Van Es and his wife Blake were delighted to hear that Nico wanted to contribute his talents to their business. The two projects they needed the most help with were parking curbs for their lot, and a donation bin. Nico proposed ideas that melded creativity and practicality.
“I envisioned concrete signs in the shape of dog bones for the curbs and a large doghouse with a lifting lid for a donation box,” Nico explained. “With help from my dad and other scouts, we made four ‘dog bone’ parking blocks, using 220 pounds of concrete.”
The form was built using wood and concrete cylindrical forms cut into wedges. Friends and family helped to pour the concrete in shifts.
The shingled, three by four-foot doghouse was also a hit with LovePup’s owners, as it made an ideal structure for donations of blankets, comforters and dog toys.
“Nico is an amazing kid,” Blake said. “This project is close to my heart because our son is also an Eagle Scout. Nico’s projects have been incredibly helpful for our LovePup shelter.”
The newly-minted Eagle Scout was recognized at the prestigious Court of Honor ceremony at St. Theresa’s Hall in March.
“It was a big deal. Nico received a new neckerchief, his eagle badge and a medal,” Dan said. “I’m so glad he had this opportunity. Scouting makes kids responsible and brings families together.”
“Receiving my Eagle Scout award was a huge success and will help me in the future with my career,” Nico said.
His dream is to become a veterinarian. He plans to receive an associate degree, followed by a four-year degree, then head to veterinarian school – the last stop to make his dream a reality.