Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award 2011: Cyrus Vakili-Rad

Our next award is the Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award and I want to say a few words about rhe award itself and why it bares this name.  For each year we move a little bit farther from the tragedy of that day in October 2005 and it is important we never forget.

Jenny was a new member in our crew that year who was killed in a terrible car acciedent with her older brother.  Their deaths so upset the crew that the officers decided to conduct a driving safety campaign in three schools the following year, the most ambitious service project I have seen in 20 years in Scouting.  The following year the crew produced a video on driving safety, a video the crew and other Scouts have seen many times since.

This award goes to the individual who most demonstrates the spirit of giving, leading and participating in service projects throughout the year.  To keep track of who is doing what, we created a spreadsheet  to track everyone’s service hours throughout the year.  And I want three of them to step forward at this time to receive a special Venturing patch to symbolize the work you have done for others during the year:  Carly, Stuart and Lexie.  Thank you for all you have done.

And now I would like this year’s winner of the Public Service Award to come forward:  Cyrus Vakili-Rad.

This is Cyrus’ second year with us and like Carly and others, he really didn’t get involved with the crew until the start of his second year.

And he has become a key leader in this crew.  His wise-cracking and appetite for practical jokes are endless, as his attraction to risky adventures, from exploring sewer passages to free-climbing with his advisor.

It’s his entertaining side that gets a lot of attention in the crew and keeps him doing things like running for every office during the December election with the pledge that if he won he would resign and appoint a successor.  Or the time he, Stuart, Carly and Audrey became embroiled in a car decorating prank war.  Or his many foreign accents.  His British speak would even make Mrs. Izett feel at home.  In fact, on some trips he inspired others to adopt accents, creating an international air to some of our events.

That impish side of him certainly earns him a lot of laughs.  But I want to focus on another side of him, the reason he is standing here tonight.

I saw that side in September, after we returned from our Labor Day trip.  He had been elected as crew treasurer and was attending his first officer’s meeting.  And one of the exercises all the officers start with at a meeting is called thorns and roses.   Each is asked to tell the group something they liked during the previous month that is Venturing related – the rose – and something they didn’t – the thorn.  And Cyrus told the group that his thorn was hearing people disparage others during the campout behind their back.  It was a sobering, needed and accurate insight that took some risk to voice given he had just come aboard as an officer.  The officers weren’t thrilled to hear it either.  But they respected his opinion and didn’t argue too much that he was wrong.

He holds the same value in helping people through service and he walks the talk.  Cyrus piled up more hours in service during the past year than anyone else in the crew.  That’s not to say he didn’t have some fun doing it.  During the triathalon, he was asked to help warn incoming bikers  to get off their bikes at a certain point.  There were 300 bikers.  So at one point he switched into his British accent.  During the E-recycling, he was like a kid in a candy shop looking at what he and others saw as ancient technology, even bringing home an early flip phone as a souveneir.

But I saw the real side of him during the Council Camporee, when he spent many hours at a climbing wall, helping Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts – and a few adults – scale the wall.  He kept it fun and safe, helped those who were intimidated by the climb gain the confidence to give it a try and he did this throughout the day.

The reason Cyrus is here is because he carries that same spirit through the yeaer, always showing up at service activities and doing whatever is required not only to help others but to make it fun in the process.

For all of those reasons, I am proud to declare Cyrus our 2011 winner of the Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award.


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