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SHINING MOMENTS: A will to win


Because of congenital heart defect, doctors 12 years ago gave little hope for the survival and developemnt of Michael Lewis, son of robert and JoAnn Lewis of the Taylorsville 11th Ward, Taylorsville Utah Stake. But he survived heart surgery at two weeks of age, numerous bouts with pneumonia during his first two years, and several other major surgeries and illnesses as he grew.

In spite of marginal health and physical limitations Michael developed a love of Scouting at an early age. When four years old, he proudly wore a blue shirt with patches sewn on by his mother to Cub Scout pack meetings for his older brother. It was a happy moment for him when he finally received his own official Cub Scout uniform for his eighth birthday.

When he became a Boy Scout at age 11, he planned carefully to meet the requirements for each rank. Because of Michael's physical condition, his Scoutmaster Ned Utley, occasionally approved substitutions for regular requirements. He was allowed to use a bicycle for the 5-mile hikes necessary for the hiking skill awards. Michael and his father selected a route that followed a road winding around City Creek Canyon in Salt lake City and past Primary Children's Hopital to the top of a hill - distance of about 21/2 miles.

The climb was more severe than anticipated, and every 100 feet or so Michael needed to stop to catch his breath. About half-way through the climb, he and his father stopped for a hamburger and rest at the Primary Children's Hospital cafeteria.

The trip to the turnaround lasted all aternoon, but Michael refused to quit. Finally, he and his father reached the top. They were able to coast the 21/2 miles back to their truck in less than 10 minutes.

Scouting also introduced Michael to fishing, which he grew to love. His last fishing trip with the Scouts was memorable. Early in the morning, with all of the troop members watching, Michael stood in one spot on the shore of a river and cast downstream. He caught his limit of eight fish in 30 minutes.

Michael, senior patrol leader for Troop 791, finished the Eagle requirements three days after his 13th birthday, Feb. 20, 1988. At his Eagle court of honor, tributes were paid him by his Church leaders, friends, family and former teacher, his cardiologist and his Scoutmaster. Michael's heart condition worsened, and he passed away two-and-a-half months after receiving his Eagle.

At his funeral, Scouts from Troop 791 formed an honor guard in recognition of his life and accomplishmments.