The strength of ONE scout
Volume XXXI, Issue 6 Thursday, August 6, 2009 live.oa-bsa.org
The strength of ONE scout
By Brendan Bertagnoll
The power of one individual has never been more evident than in the presence of John Lahutsky. John, a Life Scout and Brotherhood member of Witauchsoman Lodge in Pennsylvania, has now added another feather to his cap: author. On September 29, John’s new book, which he coauthored with his friend Alan Philps, The Boy from Baby House 10: From the Nightmare of a Russian Orphanage to a New Life in America, will be available on shelves nationwide. This is not the least of what underscores John’s personal strength – to truly understand the individual power John exudes one must delve into the pages of his book – a story more than 19-years in the making.
John, born in Russia in 1990, was afflicted with cerebral palsy and abandoned by his mother. Sent to a bleak orphanage called Baby House 10, he was clothed in rags, ignored by most of the staff and given little, if any, medical treatment. Cruelly confined to a mental asylum, John spent time in a locked ward surrounded by psychotic adults.
John’s life was drastically and permanently changed by a single American woman, Paula Lahutsky, who, after much struggle, adopted John and brought him to the United States. John was soon ntroduced to Scouting in the 3rd grade, something he credits with shaping the person he is today. “Scouting takes you places and gives you experiences,” John said on why scouting is so important in his life. He has participated in National Youth Leadership Training, several local Jamborees, and a few conclaves. “He’s been to every OA service weekend we have,” said Dr. Michael Dolan, one of John’s advisers. “He’s one of the hardest workers we have.” Even in America, John’s life has certainly not been without struggles, but it would be difficult to find someone who has had a richer Scouting experience. John, a Life Scout and an inspiration to many, was himself inspired. “I got a chance to meet Alvin [Townley,]” said John, “and he inspired me to [complete] my Eagle.” John’s Eagle Scout project is easy for John to relate to: he’s raising money and awareness for a New Jersey charitable organization, Warm the Children, who work with local orphans, to provide basic necessities
John is publishing his book with equally selfless motives. “I’m not doing this book for me, I’m doing this book for the kids of the future,” revealed John. “I’m telling my story to help stop any child from having the same experience I had,” he said. The concept for his book started when an article was published about his story for Mothers Day. John’s friend and coauthor encouraged John to share his full story. “Kids are locked up for hours in cribs and starved to death – it’s pathetic,” John said as he explained the atrocities that are still occurring in Russia today. “I’m really excited for this book,” mentioned John, “I think this book is going to let other people see what happens in other countries.” You may have seen John around the Indiana University campus. John stays busy while at NOAC, trying to get to as much as he can. “Patch trading,” John said on his plans for his last day at NOAC. “I love it,” John exclaimed of his overall NOAC experience. Reflecting on the 2009 NOAC theme, John believes “One person has the power to change the future and that’s just what we need.” “Don’t give up,” John encourages, “keep trying to do the best that you can.” After high school, John plans on enrolling in a two-year community college and studying cinematography. John will be among students hoping to make a difference in the world with the story they will one day tell through film. John’s classmates would be smart to learn from him – someone who, in every sense of the word, with the power of just one, has already changed the world.