Blythe earns Girl Scout Gold Award

Published 2:35 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2022

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Sixteen-year-old Rachel Blythe has overcome significant obstacles in life to succeed in a multitude of ways, the most recent of which is earning the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award.

Girl Scout Leader Troop 1707 Kimberly Blythe noted that the Gold award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.

“It is much like the Eagle award in boy scouts, only much more difficult,” Kimberly Blythe said.

She noted that to earn the Gold award, a Girl Scout has to complete a minimum of 80 hours on a project that will benefit the community or world.

She said that Rachel, her daughter, decided to orchestrate a Veteran’s Awareness Day event for her project. The event, held April 30 at SGT USMC Jayton D Patterson VFW Post 4411 in Franklin, raised awareness for veterans and active-duty military members about post-traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse and suicide prevention, helping them learn about the signs and where to go for help.

“Many of our veterans/military and their families are not sure what is happening or what the signs are for any of these disabilities,” Kimberly Blythe said. “Rachel wanted to do this because her grandfather is a Vietnam veteran.”

Rachel has been in Girl Scouts since kindergarten, starting at the initial Daisy level. She has since completed her Bronze, Silver and now Gold awards.

Kimberly stated that it is difficult enough for a Girl Scout to complete a Gold award, but Rachel did so while facing additional challenges.

Born three-and-a-half months too early, Rachel’s life began in the newborn intensive care unit, and at two weeks old, she developed an infection that caused her to stop breathing. 

She lived in the special care nursery of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for the first three months of her life. Her parents were told after the infection that she had only 1/8 of her brain that was not damaged during her 23 minutes without oxygen. They were told that she would probably not be able to do anything like a normal child and that she would need a lot of help and therapy all her life. 

Rachel, who has cerebral palsy, endured 17 surgeries before she was 11 years old. She used to walk a little bit before she had hip surgery in 2011, but since then she has been in a wheelchair and transfer chair. She has been in therapy all her life, ranging from two- to four-times a week. 

“It has been a long journey, but she is a thriving, regular 16-year-old with a lot of fight and enthusiasm for life,” Kimberly said. “She is active in Girl Scouts and her church youth group. She also attends Natural Pageants a few times a year and has won most of the time in her division.”

She was the March of Dimes ambassador for 12 years, and Kimberly noted that Rachel is extremely popular in school and in the community.

Rachel has become known for her ability to achieve her goals, with her completion of the Girl Scout Gold Award being the latest example.

She shared what it meant to her to have been able to complete that award.

“It feels amazing to me, and I know I can accomplish more in the future,” she said.