Robert Rafanelli, a senior at Lombard's Montini Catholic High School, recently reached the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement attainable in Scouting.
Only 4 percent of Boy Scouts reach the rank after a lengthy review process that requires a Scout to earn at least 21 merit badges in fields such as first aid, citizenship, communication, personal fitness and emergency preparedness as well as planning, organizing, leading and managing a service project.
"My Eagle Scout project was to build two slow-grazer horse feeders for a stable called Hanson Center in Burr Ridge," Rafanelli said. "They provide horse rides to people with mental disabilities."
Rafanelli volunteered at Hanson Center over the summer and was inspired to base his project on the stable's needs. "I asked them if they had anything that I could do for them," he said.
He found some of the center's feeders were in disarray and needed to be replaced. After getting the project approved by Hanson Center and the Scouts, he ordered the custom steel grates and the instructions for building the feeders.
"One of my dad's friends provided the tools needed for the project. Then me, my dad, my friend Dylan, and my dad's friends built the feeders," he said.
Thinking that the project would take multiple days, Rafanelli and crew were happy to be able to get the job done much faster.
"We were able to build both of them in one day," he said. "A few days later we dropped the feeders off at Hanson Center."
"My dad (Rick Rafanelli) has really been the one to push me anytime I slacked off," the Scout said. "He was also the one who helped with the finances and technical parts of my project. He knew the hard work would pay off in the end.
"Becoming an Eagle Scout means that I have achieved something great in my life," Rafanelli said. "The journey to becoming an Eagle Scout has helped me grow in smarts and maturity."
"We are so honored to have Robbie in our midst here at Montini," Principal Maryann O'Neill said. "He is an inspiration to us all, and we are so very proud to have him as a vital member of our Montini Catholic family."