Tye Mortimer of Western Springs had helped out at the Hanson Center in Burr Ridge before.
So when it came time to find a project to complete his Eagle Scout award, the Hanson Center was the first place he looked. What he found at the Burr Ridge facility was a 25-year-old bridge in need of repair.
“It had been closed since last winter,” Mortimer, a senior at Lyons Township High School, said of the bridge.
The structure takes not only people, but also horses and even cars, across a drainage ditch on the property at 60th Street and Madison. Linda Gurgone, director of maintenance, purchasing and grants for the Ray Graham Association, said holes in the bridge’s wood planks made it unsafe.
Hanson Center provides services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Therapeutic horseback riding is a big part of the Hanson Center’s program. The program not only has a new bridge, it also has resurfaced bridle paths and some new landscaping, thanks to Eagle Scouts projects completed by two Elmhurst residents.
“We had three Eagle Scout projects out here last weekend,” Gurgone said. “We love Eagle Scouts.”
Because the bridge had to be strong enough to handle a horse’s weight, Mortimer had to be sure to use the right materials.
“The timbers are Douglas fir,” said Mortimer.
Not only are the timbers strong, they are heavy, he said. But with the help of about 40 volunteers, including family, friends and fellow Boy Scouts from Troop 3 in Western Springs, the bridge was successfully repaired over one September weekend.
Mortimer estimates the project took about 136 labor hours to complete. His fellow volunteers weren’t the only ones who helped make the project happen. Sherwin-Williams donated the paint and other products and Sterling Lumber donated the wood.
A Scout since age 11, Mortimer, 17, said he was determined to earn his Eagle award before “aging out” at 18.
He said his years in Scouting taught him some valuable lessons.
“It has taught me a lot about surviving, about teamwork,” he said.
The Eagle project came with lessons of its own.
“It taught me about planning and about doing my fair share,” he said.