Inspired by a fellow student, 17-year-old Matt Neumann of Columbia orchestrated a largescale project that will benefit students of one local high school for many years to come.
Neumann, a member of Boy Scout Troop 320 in Columbia and recent Columbia High School graduate, participated in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps offered through a partnership with Dupo High School.
It was through this program Neumann came to know 17-year-old CHS senior-to-be Nick Kirkpatrick, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around.
When the time came for Neumann to think of a project required to attain Eagle Scout status, he immediately reflected upon the difficulties his fellow JROTC buddy would have trying to get around outside the Dupo school facility.
“Nick was one inspiration, for sure,” Neumann said. “But I just thought the school should have this for anyone who needs it.”
So, Neumann set out to plan, organize and execute the construction of a 412-foot-long, four-foot-wide handicap accessible concrete sidewalk from Dupo High School to its track and football field.
“It was quite a project,” said Matt’s father and Troop 320 Scoutmaster Chris Neumann. “He learned that many people with disabilities had a hard time getting to the track as a result of difficult terrain.”Pictured, Nick Kirkpatrick observes the early stages of Matt Neumann’s Eagle Scout project at Dupo High School.
Matt Neumann initially presented his project idea to the Dupo School Board, but the board said no funds were available due to ongoing budget cuts and reduced state funding.
Still, the board gave Matt permission to do the project if he could secure the funds and materials required.
Not to be deterred, Matt contacted businesses in Dupo, Columbia and elsewhere for help. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
“People in Dupo really seem to love their town and school,” Matt said.
To date, nearly 90 percent of the funding for this sidewalk project has been secured through donations of cash or materials.
Donations are still being accepted. Call 314-591-7598 to help out.
Matt then set his sights on gathering a volunteer workforce that included fellow scouts, scout leaders, JROTC cadets, family and friends.
Work began on June 22, with forms and rock set in place, followed by concrete being poured a short time later.
“I learned a lot about concrete, for sure,” Matt said.
As for Kirkpatrick, who will return to JROTC classes at Dupo this fall, the new path is a blessing.
“It will be a big help for not just people in wheelchairs, but for everyone,” Kirkpatrick said. “It also makes the school look much nicer.”
Matt’s father is proud of his son’s accomplishment on multiple levels.
“As scoutmaster, I am proud of each and every scout that has achieved such a high honor. As a parent, I’m blown away at the thoughtfulness of this project,” Chris Neumann said.