Community joins Gulfport teen with cerebral palsy in 20-mile hike, one step closer to being an Eagle Scout

Community joins Gulfport teen with cerebral palsy in 20-mile hike, one step closer to being an Eagle Scout
Aaron Smith takes a break for lunch about halfway through his 20 mile hike. (Source: Ray Price)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - One of the best ways to tackle a difficult task is to do it one small step at a time. Walking 20 miles in one day is not a simple thing to do, especially not for 14-year-old Aaron Smith.

Smith has cerebral palsy and optic nerve damage in one eye, but he’s not letting that stop him from moving closer to his ultimate goal of becoming an Eagle Scout.

“He faces adversities that I don’t, and yet he wants to do this,” said Toni Martino, Smith’s middle school teacher.

He needs to finish a 20-mile hike to be one badge closer to becoming an Eagle Scout. In only two years, he’s already earned 33 merit badges and wants to have them all by the end of the year.

“That’s all my goal is to just get this badge,” Smith said.

“Since he’s joined the Boy Scouts, he is so passionate about everything that encompasses,” Martino said.

Smith insisted that his teacher Ms.Toni walk with him. It was the only thing he would tell her about in class.

“They are like brother and sister. They are like best friends,” Smith’s mother Melissa Aasis said.

Martino helped him plan his trail along U.S. Highway 90, but he she didn’t know that at least a dozen people would be following them along the way.

“Everybody is inspired by him to come out and show their support,” Martino said.

Teachers at West Wortham Middle School, other Scouts in Troup 333 and Aaron’s family came to support him on his journey.

“He is my inspiration, literally. I look up to him everyday,” Aasis said.

Even Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes stopped by to wish him luck on his journey. Hewes was also in Troup 333 when he was a Scout.

“That’s a big, big deal man. I’m proud of you,” Hewes said to Smith.

Aaron Smith chats with Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes

Stoping for lunch during his 20 mile hike, Aaron Smith spoke to Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes who was impressed by his determination.

Posted by Ray Price WLOX on Saturday, January 26, 2019

Not every Scout reaches the rank of Eagle. Smith wants this so badly because he believes being an Eagle Scout will add to his already unique personality.

“I will be happy,” Smith said.

He still has a few more badges to earn, but in the meantime, he’s getting one step closer to getting his dream.

Smith hopes to be a counselor at Camp Tiak this summer. Aside from the Boy Scouts, Smith also enjoys solving Rubik’s cubes and playing ping-pong.

For anyone wondering, Smith finished his hike around just after 4 p.m. Saturday.

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