Matthew Beck is a lot of things. Two of the labels the Appoquinimink High School senior wears most proudly are athlete and Boy Scout. He combined his love of those two things for his Eagle Scout project, and although he received Scouting’s highest honor a few months ago, his court of honor is Dec. 29 at his parish, St. Margaret of Scotland in Glasgow.
Matt, 18, has Down syndrome, but it has not stood in the way of anything he’s wanted to accomplish. He has been a member of Appoquinimink’s unified football, basketball, and track and field teams, and he also has played just about any other sport available: swimming, golf, bowling and, this past fall, soccer. He also competes in Special Olympics events, and that is where his Eagle Scout project comes in.
All Boy Scouts who wish to become Eagles must complete a project, along with other requirements. Matt decided Special Olympics Delaware could use new award stands, so he set out to make that a reality. The finished product is two new sets of five stands each.
“We’re all Special Olympics athletes, and when we compete, we get medals,” he said recently from his home in Middletown.
His father, Will, said Special Olympics holds 60 to 90 events a year, and the old stands needed replacing. The new ones are painted gray with white numbers, the palette of Special Olympics.
And Matt made another adjustment.
“They were a little bit tall, and they were scaring some of the athletes,” Will said.
The new stands are a bit shorter, and they are covered with carpet to prevent slipping and to make the athletes feel more comfortable.
Matt joined Boy Scouts as a Tiger Cub Scout and worked his way up through the ranks of Troop 283, based at St. Margaret. He followed in the footsteps of his older brothers. John, 26, the older of the two, graduated from St. Elizabeth High School, while William, 24, went to Salesianum. They have been in Matt’s place.
“I wanted to be an Eagle Scout to be like my brothers and to be part of the Eagle brotherhood. It helps me to work,” Matt said.
Both John and William are in the Army. John is stationed in Kansas, while William is in Hawaii. Matt delayed his Eagle court of honor so that both of his brothers could attend. John will give Matt the Eagle charge, and William will recite the Eagle oath of honor.
Matt said his brothers always set a good example for him. They were active at St. Margaret and helped him get involved with the church.
“They taught me how to be an altar server and an usher,” he said.
Msgr. John Hopkins, pastor of St. Margaret, said the entire family is very active at the parish and that Matt “is a great witness for the parish community.
“Matt is always positive and is an inspiration to and for St. Margaret’s Parish. He keeps an active schedule and is always willing to help in whatever capacity he can,” Msgr. Hopkins said.
Matt always has a smile, the priest said, and whenever Msgr. Hopkins walks into the sacristy and sees he is one of the altar servers, it’s a positive way to enter into the eucharistic celebration.
Will Beck said his family got involved in Scouting after moving to Delaware from Rhode Island in the late 1990s, about the time St. Margaret was established.
“I was never a Scout,” Will said. “It’s something that my wife (Jean) volunteered me for when my oldest boy was young, back in 1999. I was asked to take on the responsibility of helping build the Cub pack.”
Since then, he has seen what Boy Scouts have brought to his sons.
“I am very proud of each of my sons, whether they are Eagles or not. It’s more about the skills that they’ve learned and to be men of character. Their achievement of Eagle was all them,” he said.
Matt said he benefits from following the Boy Scout law that encourages Scouts to do their best, be loyal, trustworthy, brave and obedient. They need to be strong, and remain mentally awake and morally straight.
“It gives me confidence,” he said.
After Matt graduates next spring, he will take some classes at Delaware Technical and Community College in security. He’s going to put all of what he’s learned in Scouting — plus the skills his mother has taught him — into use when he moves on to the next chapter of his life.
“I’m going to get an apartment,” Matt said. “I want to be a security guard.”