Alderman’s Ford Trail Project Earns Scout With Fatal Disease Eagle Rank

By Marie Gilmore

On paper, FishHawk resident Jon Miller is an exceptional Boy Scout. A member of Troop 11 Brandon, FL, he has held leadership positions of Troop Quartermaster, Patrol Leader and Asst. Patrol Leader. In addition, his awards include 1 mile swim, Order of the Arrow, World Conservation Award, Snorkeling and now, after a successful completion of a park improvement project, Miller has earned his Eagle Scout Award and can count himself as a part of an elite group of scouts that only 4 percent of all Boy Scouts achieve.

What makes this award even more special, is that for most of his career in scouting, Jon has been essentially blind or at least vision impaired.

But, that has never held this young man back. He has earned 45 Merit Badges, enjoyed hiking, swimming, snorkeling and SeaBase Camp and is a senior at Newsome High.

Miller, 18, suffers from Batten Disease, specifically Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses or CLN3 Disease that is an extremely rare and fatal disease that starts in childhood and progresses on through life.

“We want the Eagle Court of Honor to be a celebration of his achievements,” explained dad Eric, who along with younger sister Maria, are often found by Jon’s side. “But, we also want to start the process of raising awareness and advocacy for the need for a cure.”

For his Eagle Scout Project, Jon worked with Asst. Park Ranger Bobby Roberts at Alderman’s Ford Park and cleared a hiking trail off of the main hiking path, and installed smartphone sensors/scanners along the trail to allow people to read about (or the blind to use a voiceover function on their phone to have it read to them) the surroundings of the park and its history.

Miller’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held at Grace Community Church on Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in June and Miller received certificates of achievement from local organizations including The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, Marine Corp League, Tim Tebow Foundation, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gov. Rick Scott, American Legion Alafia Post 148, Brandon Elks Lodge 2383, Masons and a U.S. Army Outstanding Citizen Award.

Miller thanked everyone in his troop for their help with the project and issued a special recognition to his dad, his sister and Roberts during the ceremony.

Miller hopes to host a 5K fundraiser for Batten awareness in the winter. Visit, Jons-Journey on Facebook.