High school student achieves highest Boy Scout honor while battling cancer

Duncan Starkenburg used final Eagle Scout Project to support a cause that hits close to home.
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (KABC) -- Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is the highest honor in Boy Scouts. The scout has to earn numerous merit badges and complete a final service project that demonstrates leadership and commitment to duty.

A student at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano is working toward Eagle Scout, while battling Leukemia.

Passionate about engineering and technology, Duncan Starkenburg also enjoys being in service, that's why the 17-year-old is using his Eagle Scout project to give back to a cause that hits close to home.

"Most Boy Scouts give back to some conservation or they give back to a nature center," Starkenburg said. "I wanted to give back to CHOC, Children's Hospital of Orange County."

In 2019, heading into high school, Starkenburg was diagnosed with leukemia.

"I showed up at the emergency room and they thought, 'Oh it could be mono, it could be a bunch of things,' and then after looking under a microscope, 'Oh it's leukemia,'" I was then there for 10 days."

Starkenburg said remembering 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, its going to be like a goody basket basically of things they can use," said Starkenburg. "The children can use to decorate their room."

Starkenburg's goal for the breakfast was to raise $5,000. There are seven different themed kits including rainbows, Star Wars, Marvel and more. Starkenburg said they were even able to secure 65 pillowcases and IV bag covers to go within the themes.

"One of the things that I hated was looking at blood transfusions. I absolutely did not want to see the blood." Starkenburg said. "It's basically just trying to bring a little light to this terrible situation that the children are in because I know I would've enjoyed it."

Not only did Starkenburg double his goal by raising $10,000 at his pancake breakfast, he also has met all his Eagle Scout criteria and will officially become and Eagle Scout in June.

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