Cody Sparks makes dream reality with Eagle Scout project


LOUISVILLE --  For 17-year-old Cody Sparks, his Eagle Scout project was a journey of significance.

Involved in scouting and working through the ranks for nearly 12 years, Sparks was looking for a project that would have an impact and make a difference.
“I knew I wanted a project that was more than just building benches or something like that,” Cody explained. “I talked to Pastor Tim Pearce about different ideas and we came up with three different ones. This is what we decided on. We’ll do as much of the project as we can now and then will have to finish it in the spring.”
What emerged was a garden with a 16 foot high by 8 ½ foot wide cross as its centerpiece at Epworth Camp in Louisville. Complete with a 50 foot square concrete pad and seating for 160, the addition will serve as a memorial for a United Methodist layman from Olney as well as a reminder to those who attend camp or just happen to drive by the campgrounds.
“Cody came to me several months ago and talked to me about these ideas,” Pearce, pastor of the Newton and Falmouth UMC’s said. “He had only been at the camp once but he wanted a big project that would make a difference. He planned everything, from knocking down the hill to make the cross visible, to bringing lighting to the area and adding a walkway, just everything that was needed. I was quite impressed that a young man would come up with this huge project and how he had everything planned. We just needed the camp board’s okay and to find the funding.   I took the plans to the board and they said, yes, and of course the next thing was to find funding for the project.”
The family of Omer Ulrich, a layman from Olney First UMC, was looking for a project to give Epworth Camp as a memorial since Ulrich has spent many hours at the camp involved in United Methodist Men’s activities and volunteering. They had originally thought they would have a gazebo built but when they heard of Cody’s project they decided they wanted to give money to his project.
Construction began on Columbus Day weekend. With the help of his father’s equipment from his business, R.L. Sparks and Son Backhoe and Trenching Service, the ground preparation was started. A crew of about 25 people from different churches came to the site and quickly put in the timber lined walkway. A 40 by 50 foot square was carved out of the hill and dirt was moved to form a berm on the south side of the area.
The cross was set and concrete benches have been brought in by Rex Vault Co., of Newton, who has been building the benches to fill the area, with room for approximately 160 people to sit. The cross was set in place and now lights the night skies. 
A dedication service was held at the campground Nov. 4 with two plaques – one which honored Ulrich and his family for providing the funding and the other, in honor of Sparks with his name and date on it.
“Cody is an exceptional young man,” Pearce said.  “I told him if seeing the lighted cross from the road, could inspire just one person, it would be worth it. It all started with Cody’s dream and the determination of a very special and awesome young man who never wanted to draw attention to himself.”
(Beth Fancher of the Clay County Republican newspaper in Louisville contributed to this report.)