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Teen's Service Project Helps Children Battling Cancer

Dahlton WagnerSeventeen-year-old Dahlton Wagner shoots straight from the heart. He needed an Eagle Scout project, and the TTUHSC pediatric oncology clinic at Amarillo needed some sprucing up.

That was inspiration enough for this Bushland High School junior. Dahlton has been involved in scouting since third grade and lists among his hobbies “being outdoors and working with his hands.”  Last year, as he approached the pinnacle of his scouting career, he was initially at a loss for an idea. The Eagle Scout Award is the highest rank that Boy Scouts of America bestows on its members. It’s not, however, just another plaque to hang on the wall or badge to pin on their shirt. Those looking to earn this award are really looking to make a difference in the community by providing a tangible contribution of service.

On his first visit to the TTUHSC pediatric oncology clinic, Dahlton said he immediately knew this was his Eagle Scout project. His mother, Pam Wagner, had learned through her nursing school instructor that the clinic needed a few new items. She suggested the idea to Dahlton and helped him make the initial arrangements for the tour. There he discovered that many of the televisions and other electronics available to help patients pass the hours during treatments were showing signs of their use.

Recalling his grandfather’s battle with cancer gave Dahlton a better understanding of what the patients at this clinic might be going through. “I really just put myself in their shoes and tried to go down the road that they were on. I know cancer is really bad so I wanted to do something that for a while would let the kids take their minds off being there.”

Dahlton WagnerDahlton began to seek donations to replace the well-used televisions and VCRs. As word of his project spread among family, friends and his parent’s co-workers, generous donors helped Dahlton fulfill his dream of goodwill.

The clinic’s waiting room and treatment room got electronic upgrades. One donor provided three new televisions and DVD players as well as three new Nintendo Wii consoles with multiple video games.  Dahlton also gave the treatment room a homelike makeover, replacing a hospital bed with furniture, creating a more relaxing environment for the children and their parents. Also in the clinic is a bookcase Dahlton built, with help from his scout troop, filled with the new books that he purchased.

Each TTUHSC pediatric oncology patient also leaves the clinic with a cuddly, plush Ty Beanie Baby, provided by a family friend. “For Dahlton, this project was a leadership journey,” said his mother, Pam Wagner. “He accomplished his goal through the generosity of others, relying on the help of his troop, family and friends. “For him, this was about helping a kid with cancer just be a kid.”

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