Ramping up accessibility: Churchgoers benefit from Eagle Scout’s project

When a Whiteland teen learned his church needed a better wheelchair accessible ramp, he knew he had found his Eagle Scout project.

And now that the work is done, a fellow church family can more easily get to services.

Whiteland Community High School junior Brandon Lingenfelter and his family attend SouthPointe Church in Whiteland, where the Fox family also attends. The Fox’s son, Aidan, 7, has a condition called dystonia, a movement disorder that causes the muscles to contract and spasm. Aidan uses a wheelchair.

Lingenfelter knew the church needed to update its ramp and saw improving it as a way to help his fellow parishioners, but also do a service to earn his badge.

“When our family heard that Brandon was taking the ramp on as a project, we were very touched by the fact that this incredible young man saw our need and was taking the steps necessary to make entry into the church building easier for our son,” said Aidan Fox’s mother, Sunshine Fox.

After someone mentioned the problem one day, Lingenfelter knew it was a good project for his Eagle Scout badge.

“SouthPointe is my home church, and it was a big need. We had one that wasn’t very sturdy,” he said.

Lingenfelter considers pursuing the rank of Eagle Scout both a huge undertaking and honor — but one that seemed a natural progression for him. He’s been a Boy Scout since first grade and is a current member of Boy Scout Troop 264.

Lingenfelter called on his fellow scouts for help. He had a crew of eight people who helped him construct the ramp. Materials cost about $1,700, which he raised from asking for donations.

“I learned a lot of leadership skills, like how to be more patient,” he said. “It looks really good and better than I’d expected.”

The Fox family is grateful for Lingenfelter’s interest and dedication, which makes getting in and out of church easier for them.

“We understand the importance that community plays in everyday life and are so happy that our community has embraced Aidan with open arms,” Sunshine Fox said.

“As Aidan grows and becomes more difficult to maneuver, we have come upon many situations where it is a struggle to get him into certain buildings. Knowing that he will be able to attend church with our family as he continues to grow is so very important to us.”

SouthPointe Church Pastor Charles Howard said the building, which is 131 years old, has never had this accessibility. SouthPointe has been in the building off Whiteland Road for four years.

“Without doubt, it has kept people from attending a worship gathering, and I am relieved that this barrier has been eliminated,” he said.

“We are elated that Brandon captured the vision for this project. It wasn’t just a means to an end for him; it was personal. SouthPointe is his church. Aidan is a fellow attender. It was a functional need that could serve people now and for years to come.”

Author photo
Anna Herkamp is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at aherkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2712.