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Ridgefield Scout's Eagle Project Helps People With Special Needs

Calvin Keller of Ridgefield will conduct a race Saturday at Ridgefield High School to benefit The Prospector, a theater that employs people with special needs. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Calvin Keller
Calvin Keller of Ridgefield runs along a trail. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Calvin Keller

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- Calvin Keller of Ridgefield developed a unique Eagle Scout project that combines his passions for running and movies while also supporting people with special needs.

Keller, a senior at Ridgefield High School and a member of the cross country team, will host a 5k race on Saturday at the high school. Proceeds will benefit The Prospector theater of Ridgefield, which provides jobs for people with disabilities.

“My original idea was to find something that would incorporate running,’’ Keller said. “I love The Prospector’s cause and giving jobs to special needs members of the community. I love movies and I thought it would be a unique event that could help the community.”

Saturday’s run begins at 8 a.m. Keller has recruited volunteers to assist people with special needs who want to run and/or walk the course.

“People can do the entire course or just part of it,’’ he said. “The idea to have volunteers help people with special needs is something we thought of at the very beginning. The main goal of the race is to put our arms around people with special needs and show our love for them.”

Keller deliberated for nearly a year before creating his project. He received approvals from his local scoutmaster, Russell Carson, and David Zeh, a regional scoutmaster. He also sought out The Prospector before putting together the components for his plan. Ridgefield Running Company and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have been among Keller’s biggest supporters. Local businesses that provided prizes are The Prospector Theater, Ridgefield Running Company . Prime Burger, Tiger Sports, Chez Lenard, Ursula's, and The Toy Chest.

“It has been pretty stressful,’’ Keller said. “I’m learning and growing, and seeing how much an event like this takes to produce. Now I see how much work it takes. When I first started, I was unsure how much time I would have to dedicate to it. I’m putting in a couple of hours each day. The hardest part has been promoting it and getting people to know about it.”

A friend donated a timing system for Keller to use at the race. He also had to procure race bibs and pins, and a few companies have donated prizes. The course will be run entirely on school grounds, on the high school cross country trail.

Keller said his idea stems in part from a special needs child at his church whom his family has befriended. “He loves attention, and we’ve grown to love him and his family,’’ he said. “I’ve seen the challenges he faces, and I feel it’s important to support them.”

Keller is considering hosting the race even after this year. Other members of his scout troop and his cross country teammates will be helping him on Saturday. While the race benefits The Prospector, Calvin feels the race will be a success simply by bringing the community together to support people who have special needs.

“Part of the goal is to raise money for The Prospector Theater,’’ he said. “But bringing the community together, surrounding them with love and supporting them is the biggest thing I’m after. If we accomplish that, then I will consider it to have been successful.”

Click here for more information about the race.

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