Local student uses own experience battling cancer to inspire final Eagle Scout project

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (KABC) — Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is the highest honor in Boy Scouts. The scout must earn numerous merit badges and complete a final service project that demonstrates leadership and devotion to duty.

A student at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano works on Eagle Scout while battling leukemia.

Duncan Starkenburg is passionate about engineering and technology and also enjoys being employed. That’s why the 17-year-old uses his Eagle Scout project to give back to a charity close to home.

“Most Boy Scouts give back to some conservation or they give back to a wildlife center,” Starkenburg said. “I wanted to give back to CHOC, Orange County’s Children’s Hospital.”

In 2019, on his way to high school, Starkenburg was diagnosed with leukemia.

“I showed up to the emergency room and they were like, ‘Oh, it could be mono, it could be a lot of things,’ and when I looked under a microscope, ‘Oh it’s leukemia,’ I was there for 10 days. “

Starkenburg said the memory of those 10 days he spent in the hospital inspired him to choose his Eagle Scout project.

He decided to host a pancake breakfast at his school to raise money to build 65 themed room decoration kits for CHOC patients.

“In each of the kits, it’s going to be kind of a goody basket, basically with things they can use,” Starkenburg said. “The kids can use it to decorate their room.”

Starkenburg’s goal for breakfast was to raise $5,000. There are seven different themed packs, including Rainbows, Star Wars, Marvel, and more. Starkenburg said they could even secure 65 pillowcases and IV bag covers to fit the themes.

“One of the things I hated was watching blood transfusions. I definitely didn’t want to see the blood.” said Starkenburg. “It’s really just trying to shed a little light on this awful situation the kids are in because I know I would have enjoyed it.”

Not only has Starkenburg doubled his goal by raising $10,000 on his pancake breakfast, he’s met all of his Eagle Scout criteria and will officially become an Eagle Scout in June.

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