David and Eric in front of a tent on a Boy Scout camping trip

Wood County, Ohio,
05
July
2016
|
05:00 PM
America/Chicago

Father Finds Scouting to Help Son Be Prepared for Life

Constant Positive Influence Helped Deal with a Rare Diagnosis

Ten years ago, like many 5-year-olds, Eric Hardy walked into his kindergarten classroom. He was active, attentive, and weighed about 65 pounds.

Soon after, he became ill and quickly lost 30 pounds. It became necessary for him to be home schooled while his family searched for answers.

Seeking Dr. House

Eric’s family sought medical attention to determine the cause of his rapid weight loss and his undiagnosed illness. His mother, Tammy, pushed for answers but wasn’t getting them. After visits with many doctors, they finally met their “Dr. House.” Like on the TV show. He was god-like and a bit eccentric, but he knew exactly what was wrong.

Eric’s diagnosis was PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections). Many people get strep and suffer no long-term effects. However, with PANDAS, the strep virus triggers a misdirected immune response. The result is inflammation of the child’s brain. Eric was born with no immunity to strep. When he got the infection, his body tried to fight it, but didn’t know how. 

Boy Scout logo

Scouting Teaches Perseverance

“With the loss of his school and access to his friends, Eric was essentially a prisoner in our home,” recalls his father David Hardy, a State Farm agent. “We were his only comfort.”

Just as Tammy led the charge looking for a diagnosis, David looked for ways his son could connect with other children and stay busy. One day, he saw a flyer in a local grocery store for the Cub Scouts.

“I knew I had to do something. Just waiting around for what we thought could be a possible outcome was not good for any of us,” David said.

”I took Eric to that first Cub Scout meeting thinking the worse they can do is tell us no,” David recalls. “I was so surprised when they took him in.”

Not wanting to feel Eric’s circumstances might be a burden to the troop, David volunteered to be Den Master.

He Lives With Hope

Fast forward 10 years. Of the 11 other cases of the disease the Hardy's were aware of, Eric is the only survivor. In his case, the onset of puberty and increased testosterone dramatically altered his immune system allowing his body to better fight the strep. Eric still struggles with the fallout from a once terminal disease, but he perseveres. Just like the Scouting program taught him. 

At Penta Career Center, Eric is a member of the Information Technologies Academy. He is 16 and going through a growth spurt. At six feet tall, he weighs 222 pounds and wears a size 16 shoe. “That’s not a sickly little boy anymore, that’s a high school linebacker,” David exclaims.

David and Eric are still active in Scouting. Eric recenty earned the Eagle Scout designation by supporting the Wood County Humane Society. He is also an 11-year member of 4-H. And soon, alongside his father, he will become certified in deep water SCUBA.

Eric landscaping as part of his Eagle Scout project in support of the local Humane Society

“Scouting is just one of the main constants in my life,” Eric explained. “My father’s love and active involvement, and my mother’s perseverance are the others.”

They will remain active in Scouting. According to David, “I can never give back to this program what it has given my son, my family and me.”

Eric and David on a hike

Scout Oath
On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
Scout Oath