Eagles have landed*

Good afternoon.

Hope all are well.

Of all things I get to do during the course of a year, being here with all of you, definitely ranks up there at the top.

It is always a privilege to be a part of this momentous occasion.

A celebration of not just one, but two remarkable achievements.

For those of you that know me, I am ambidextrous:

An optimist, little  “o” – and big  “O”.

As an optimist – little “o” – I know that no matter what, there will always be young men like Preston and Riley to provide the leadership, supply the character and render the service that our community, state, country and world so desperately needs.

I must confess though, that I am in awe of just how many of you there are every year here in Mequon and Thiensville.

And they say the football team reloads every year.

As an Optimist – big “O” – I represent an international group of individuals that are dedicated to bringing out the best in kids.

Whether it is sponsoring community oriented youth programs, such as Safety Town, Youth of the Month or Cardinal Youth Football you can always count on us to be there when you need us.

One of the most important connections we Optimists have established within our community is our long-standing partnership with the Boy Scouts and our ongoing  support of their Eagle projects.

Peter Malicky recently attended an Optimist Club  meeting in the beginning of December to discuss his Eagle Scout project – improvements for an outdoor fitness area.

Ryan Baranko completed his project this past fall – an outdoor classroom at Lake Shore Middle School.

And Riley’s brother Noah, placed a flag pole at Optimist Field in Riverbarn Park a few years ago.

Those are just a few of the many that come to mind.

Whatever the case and whatever the need, I am confident that our community can rely on a Boy Scout to help make good things happen.

Lasting and meaningful things.

Several years ago, a group of friends – Preston, Aaron, Joey and Ian – banded together to do something special for our youth football community.

Just because.

I still have the pictures of them, making, sanding, priming, painting and finishing four team benches for Cardinal Football.


Benches, that depending on the season and who happens to need them at the moment, somehow make their way all around Riverbarn Park.

Benches that somehow find their way back to the home and visitor sideline each fall.

Benches that will undoubtedly be there for a very long time.

Now these might only be benches to the untrained eye.

But if you think about it, they literally represent a key aspect of the Boy Scout legacy:

Providing support for our community.

Just one small example of how Boy Scouts simply make things better.

Regardless of their age and station in life, you can always pick out a Boy Scout within a crowd.

Their commitment to service, passion for leadership and dedication to leading and living an exemplary life shine like a beacon, drawing others into their light.

Through the choices they make, they cast an indelible and lasting impression on the world around them.

It brings a measure of reassurance to know that there are young men like Preston and Riley coming behind us.

Despite the transient nature of our popular culture, there are still those – like Preston and Riley  – that have chosen a path that is less – and less – taken.

Because there are young men like Preston and Riley, we know in our hearts that “things will work out.”

I am sure that they will be the first to admit that their path was not always the easiest, and they faced times of anxiety, doubt and disappointment.

But in the final analysis, it is the triumph over these challenges that make taking this path the most gratifying.

It is only through this type of effort that you can find out who you really are.

It is during this type of journey – down a path less taken – that one’s character – and ultimately – purpose – is ultimately revealed.

That being said, on behalf of the Mequon-Thiensville Optimist Club, I would like to present Preston and Riley with a few small tokens of our appreciation, gratitude and esteem for your achievement, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

We hope that in some small way, these rewards will serve as a reminder of your efforts and spur you on to pursue future opportunity, achievement and success.

“Thank you” for choosing this path, Preston and Riley.

May the light of your character, leadership and commitment to others shine brightly for all to find, follow and emulate.

* Words spoken this afternoon at the Eagle Scout ceremony for Preston Podolske and Riley Pretat.  Great  kids.  Even greater  achievement.

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