On July 25, 1962 a fourteen year old Monroe County Boy Scout, Dennis Churchill, was fishing on Lake Erie with four companions when a sudden severe storm capsized their boat six miles from shore. Dennis put on a life jacket then left the others clinging to the boat while he swam for help. With thunder and lightning crashing overhead, high winds gusting, and waves six feet high washing over him, he swam. While Dennis was swimming through the stormy waters, alone but for God, the violence of the waves literally ripped most of the clothing off those that stayed with the boat. They felt certain they would die and believed Dennis had drowned in the storm after he had been gone several hours and no help had come for them. But Dennis did not die. After swimming four hours through the storm he reached the shore near the Dundee Cement loading docks. There he summoned help and then went back out on the lake with the Sheriffs Department to find the overturned boat.
Dennis was credited with saving four lives that day. On January 31, 1963 he was awarded the Gold Honor Medal by the National Council, Boy Scouts of America. There were only 19 Honor Medals awarded in the nation during 1963 to a national membership of over 5,000,000 boys, but of the more than 75,000 Monroe County residents that have been members of Scouting since October 16, 1911, he is the only one to ever receive this award.
The wind and water took its toll on Dennis as he struggled to get help, that night. He was in a state of total exhaustion at the end, but he knew he couldn't give up; the lives of four others were depending on him. Somehow. in that dark lonely moment. he found the strength to keep going.
Each of you will have times in your lives where you feel alone and you will want to give up, but you must learn to press on and do your best even if what you are trying to do doesn't seem attainable.
Good night, gentlemen.