By Jeff Gallatin
A 15-year-old Bay Village Boy Scout is setting a fast pace in his “run for Jesus” and his efforts to remodel his church’s youth group room.
Many spectators and other participants in the Bay Days Cleveland West Road Runners 5-mile run July 4 probably noticed runner Dillon Forsythe, who was wearing a white shirt with the phrase “Running for Jesus” proudly emblazoned on it. He also held a wooden cross in his right hand all throughout the run, which he finished in 51 minutes and 40 seconds, which placed him 501st in the field. More importantly to Dillon and his supporters, he was able to continue his efforts to raise funds for his Eagle Scout project to remodel the youth group room for Bay United Methodist Church on Lake Road, where he is a member.
Running the race, as well as having Dillon’s Duck Race in a tent during Bay Days, enabled the 15-year-old home-schooler to fulfill his dual purposes of obtaining support for the remodeling project as well helping other teens see what Jesus means to him by “Running for Jesus.”
“The reason is to help support and guide teens like me to come closer to Christ and share a close relationship with him,” Forsythe said.
During the race, he said he raised about $60 from people who pledged money for him to run the 5-mile event and passed out information to other people whom he hopes will send him additional support for the project. He also said he was happy to interact with people he saw along the race route.
“Many of them offered verbal support to me and I gave it to a lot of people I saw along the way as well,” he said. “A lot of them reacted to my message on the shirt or carrying the cross in my hand. I want other teenagers to know that there is hope for them and their futures and that Jesus is there for them.”
He noted other people also have stopped and taken part in his duck race at Bay Days or offered support when they hear about his remodeling project.
“Right now I’ve raised about $500 for the project,” he said Friday afternoon, “and I’m still working on it with other people.”
Forsythe said his goal is to get the actual project under way by mid-August and have it completed and ready for use by fall.
“I’m going to refinish the floor and I’d like to get air conditioning in the room and I’m talking to some people to see if we can redo the windows as well,” he said.
In addition to his organizing the project and raising money for it, Forsythe said he will be doing much of the actual physical work as well.
“I’ll be helped by different other members of (my Boy Scout) Troop 41, who will be working with me at different times in the church,” he said.
His mother, Mary Slaman-Forsythe, who has been the primary educator in his home schooling, said she’s proud of Dillon.
“He’s a very remarkable young man,” she said. “This is typical of how he approaches projects.”
Forsythe said he’s excited to become an Eagle Scout, and also loves that he’s able to use something else that he loves – running – to help forward the church project and his faith.
“My goal is to make that room as inviting and welcoming, just like Jesus is to us,” he said.
People interested in helping him can reach him via the church or at 440-552-7226, or go to www.active.com/donate/DillonsRunForJesus.