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Kenmore troop to honor its 100th Eagle Scout

Chris Kaszynski seems to be blessed with lucky numbers.

The Kenmore West junior was born on the auspicious date of 01-01-01 and he will soon become Boy Scout Troop 104's 100th Eagle Scout.

Chris' Eagle Scout project was to renovate and spruce up  The Teacher's Desk in Buffalo, which provides free school supplies to teachers in low income school districts. He organized a crew of 25 Scouts and parents to work on the project.

He'll be joined at Troop 104's Eagle Scout court of honor ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 14th by dozens of prior Troop 104 Eagle Scouts, including the troop's first, Monsignor Paul Belzer, 88, a retired pastor at Good Shepherd Church in Pendleton. Belzer was 17 when he volunteered to take over as acting scoutmaster during World War II, when finding adult leadership was difficult. He was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in 1946 for his efforts.

"I've always thought (Boy Scouts) was important," said Belzer. "We had fun doing lots of things."

The ceremony to honor Chris will be at Klauder Hall in St. John the Baptist Church, 1085 Englewood Ave., Kenmore. The event will also be the first reunion for Troop 104 Eagle Scouts through the years.

Don Hourigan has been a member of the troop since he was 11 and scoutmaster since 1975. The retired school teacher said he has no plans of retiring as scoutmaster, with two more Eagle Scout candidates working on their projects.

"The event on the 14th will be a big thing for me, to see all the Scouts come back," said Hourigan.

Hourigan readily admits he has seen a declining interest in Boy Scouts in recent years, with Troop 104 going from being a "Super Troop" with more than 100 members in the 1980s to its current 25 members. He said today's children focus on school and maybe a sport or two, but added, "Scouting is a way to be out in the world, to do things with other people, to share goals, to actually accomplish something."

Chris' mom, Nancy Kaszynski, is the advancement coordinator for Troop 104 and has been organizing the reunion of former Eagle Scouts, including Chris' older brother Nicholas.

"In my opinion, the values of Scouting from trustworthy to loyal, courteous, kind, clean, cheerful, brave, reverent... the world needs more of that. Duty to the community, God and country, it's all in there and those are values I want to pass on to my kids because they are going to be citizens of my community," said Kaszynski.

The Tonawanda area will also be celebrating another Eagle Scout, Benjamin Thurston, 17, a member of Troop 286 and a senior at Tonawanda High School.

The Tonawanda High School senior collected bottles and cans this summer, raising $900, which was used to redo the floor of a large office in the Northtowns Boys and Girls Club. He also recruited about 10 people, including family and other Scouts, to help on the project.

"I'm so overjoyed. He was so determined," said Ben's mom, Debbie Krupp. "This Scout troop is wonderful. They are extremely good with all the kids and they really work hard to get the kids to really enjoy Boy Scouts and succeed."

No date has been set for Ben's court of honor.

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