New Zealand Scout With Cerebral Palsy Achieves Country’s Highest Scout Honor

GLEN JEAN, W.Va (WOAY) – Ronan McConney joined Scouts New Zealand at the age of 10. At 17, he has now reached the highest peak of his scouting career: Chief Scout. But his journey has not been easy. 

“Almost everything that I have done is kind of a struggle for me because my balance isn’t the best,” McConney said.  

McConney has cerebral palsy, but because of scouting, his family and his own determination, he has not let that stop him from achieving his goals. He has certainly not let it stop him from getting the most out of his Jamboree experience. 

“Both my wife and I have seen Ronan come out of his shell a bit and he’s very much into meeting people,” Simmon McConney, Ronan’s father, said. “And the Jamboree is like one big, happy family where you get to meet lots of people from all over the world.” 

There to present him with his award was retired astronaut Mike Fossum who helped design the International Space Station and was an Eagle Scout himself. 

“It’s a great honor and privilege to get someone so high up in the scouting chain to present such an award,” Ronan said.  

In his speech, Fossum mentioned McConney’s journey hiking Mount Wellington in Australia and connected the climb and reaching the peak to McConney’s life.

“He’s at a high point right now of achievement, but there are more challenges out there,” Fossum said. “Many of them don’t have a trail and so you have to find your own way and pick the next challenge whether it’s a physical mountain or the challenges of life.” 

McConney’s parents are both involved in scouting and are making sure other scouts with disabilities can reach the same goals as their son. 

“We will adapt the program to challenge them a bit as well as to push them to achieve more than they thought they were capable of before,” Simon said.  

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.