FAIRFIELD — Nathanael Batson is not your ordinary 14-year-old about to earn Eagle Scout rank — the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America.

Like his sister Corina, 26, and his mother Yvonne, 55, Nathanael has a rare hereditary disorder, neurofibromatosis, which causes tumors throughout the body.

Yvonne’s were in her right leg, which was amputated in 2006. She walks with a prosthetic leg. She was the first in her family to develop the disorder, and it was a spontaneous mutation of cells that formed the tumors.

Corina, now an education technician in special education at Lawrence High School in Fairfield, developed a tumor on the optic nerve behind the eye. Fifteen months of chemotherapy allowed her to see again, but she still undergoes regular examinations with her doctors.

Nathanael has the same optic pathway glioma that his sister had, but it’s worse. Nathanael is legally blind, despite three rounds of chemotherapy that began at age 5.

The Batson family’s first encounter with cancer and death came in May 2001 when Yvonne’s oldest son, Brendan, then 16, was killed while training for a three-day bicycle tour for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He was struck by a pickup truck as he bicycled south along U.S. Route 201A in Norridgewock.

Brendan was biking for his friend, Isaiah Desrosiers, who suffered from a terminal illness but was able to go to Disney World before he died, thanks to charitable donations. Brendan wanted to honor Desrosiers’ memory by raising money so other children could have their wishes fulfilled, and was training for the bicycle fundraiser when he was killed.

Four years after his death, his sister Corina, who was legally blind during her chemotherapy treatments, qualified in May 2005 for a Make-A-Wish trip to Australia. She graduated from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, a magnet school in Limestone, and earned a special education degree at Concordia University in Nebraska.

Like his older sister, Natanael’s health problems aren’t stopping him.

He is finishing the final requirements of his Eagle Scout project — a 10-mile hike, a physical fitness challenge and a musical tribute he is organizing for the residents at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Augusta in June that will be performed by professional and amateur musicians from the area. The Eagle rank is hard to attain. Only about 7 percent of Scouts reach that level, according to the Boy Scouts of America.

‘Scouting is for everybody’

The national chapter of Boy Scouts of America this past week sent a video crew to the Batson’s home and to Troop 460 to record a documentary on Nathanael and his accomplishments. An article also is to be published in Boys’ Life, the Scouting magazine.

Jennifer Searles, a philanthropic advisor with the Boy Scouts of America, arrived Thursday in Fairfield with a film crew to interview and record Nathanael.

Searles is involved in a World Jamboree camp in West Virginia and is getting ready for the World Jamboree in 2017, at which one of the themes is that Scouting is for everyone, Yvonne Batson said.

Batson said the purpose of the Searles interview with Nathanael was to show that a physical or mental challenge shouldn’t stop boys from being Scouts.

“The film crew filmed Nathanael and they plan to use this film to help raise money and raise awareness for the camp,” she said. “Nathanael did great. He talked about his Scouting experience and led his troop meeting in an orientation course. It really was a special night. We fed everyone lobster rolls and blueberry cake. I even had them try Moxie.”

Nathanael said the concert — he plays trumpet — also will give some badly needed recognition to Boy Scout Troop 460 in Fairfield, which has only about a dozen members.

“I’m honored with all the attention, but also for Troop 460 — the troop that no one knows about — is finally recognized,” Nathanael said. “The other boys in the troop are very, very supportive. They always are complimenting me on how I can accomplish stuff despite my limitations and disability.”


Nathanael has been awarded 32 merit badges, including animal science, search and rescue, and camping. He also has Eagle-required badges, including citizenship in the nation and citizenship in the world.

Bill Eck, a spokesman in the Boy Scouts national office, said in an email to the Morning Sentinel that Nathanael has made an impression on a number of fronts.

“My bias likes Nathanael’s drive to be an Eagle Scout and that his Eagle Project has something to do with playing music for veterans,” Eck said. “I also like that he can read Braille. Scouting’s Boys’ Life Magazine is in Braille.” He said the Braille version is available from the Library of Congress.

Troop 460 Scoutmaster Charlie Matthews, of Fairfield, said Nathanael is an exceptional Scout and an exceptional person.

“He’s a very good Scout who is always willing to volunteer for anything,” said Matthews, a Scout leader since 1967. “The first camporee we went on, they had a talent show and he went up and played his trumpet. He’s gone to summer camp and played his trumpet for Reveille and flag ceremonies. In school, he’s in the band.”

Lawrence High School and Junior High School band director Loren Fields said he first met Nathanael at an elementary school concert several years ago and was instantly impressed with his focus and maturity. He said he continues to “delight in the ‘Nathanael experience.'”

“Nathanael’s stick-to-it attitude has enabled him to conquer potentially traumatic life experiences and tragedies, especially at so young an age,” Fields said. “His consistent and positive can-do upbeat attitude is at the forefront of his life and is infectious to those around him. The lad is truly an inspiration.

“More importantly, Nathanael is a wonderful and compassionate human being, with a rare purity of heart and empathy to those around him. It is said one can train the brain, but not the heart. Nathanael possesses both a great intellect and a tremendous depth of character.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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