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As seen in the Nutley Journal

Local Son works years for his Eagle Scout Badge - soaring above his special needs

Diane Lilli

It took some time, but local boy Scout and Nutley son Sergio Ciccolella never gave up, and worked years to achieve his dream: to be awarded the highest honor in the Boy Scouts, the Eagle Scout badge and honor.

Sergio, at 35, is a well known and beloved face in town. Growing up with his two brothers, Nico and Johnny, Sergio was always showered with love and attention. His mom, Tina, said having a son with Down’s Syndrome was not a burden, since her son Sergio is always a blessing.

“Sergio has a great life and will be a happy old man,” she said, laughing. “Both his brothers were close to him, and Johnny is only a few years younger, 32, so he went everywhere with him, and was his mentor for the Eagle Scouts. Nico also is close to Sergio, and drove him everywhere and went to Special Olympics for him too.”

Tina Ciccolella said when her son Sergio was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, things were very different 35 years ago.

“He went to the best program in Bloomfield, then Chatham and then back to Bloomfield again,” she noted. “But when he turned 21 there were no programs, so I put him into a workshop, where he met his girlfriend.”

Tina Ciccolella, who had her son Sergio in New York, said it was tough going at first.

“Nobody helped us at that time,” she said. “I was 20 and I did not speak English.

It was by the time he was 3 months a doctor said he had a mild Down’s Syndrome.”

Sergio went to school, learning English along the way and discovering a wonderful group of lifelong friends in the boy scouts.

“He was in the Boy Scouts, as part of special needs troop 364, and he is still in it,” she said. “They go meet at the Belleville Elks building on Washington Avenue and meet once a week. He has been in the Boy Scouts for the past 20 years.”

So how did he manage to accomplish such a major goal, and become an Eagle Scout?

Turns out Sergio worked on this honor for twenty years, slowly getting all of the 28 badges required. Some of the badges he proudly wears are electrical and radio.

A few weeks ago, in an emotional ceremony attended by fellow scouts, two friends who also received their Eagle Scout status, and friends and family, this determined young man reached his goal.

And, in keeping with the spirit of the Boy Scouts, where community service is key, Sergio’s project included donating 100 Valentine Day baskets for senior citizens in Nutley, filled with gift certificates from Dunkin donuts, candy, stuffed animal, gift cards from Wendys, Burger King, Plaza bakery and CVS.

Leading up to the big night, however, Sergio was nervous.

“This is the highest honor in Boy Scouts,” said Ciccolella. “He didn’t sleep for 3 days and was very nervous. But he was really attentive, heard all of the oath and repeated them.”

As per town support, this is one Eagle Scout with many fans.

One supporter, Nutley Mayor Al Petracco, reached out to this reporter to offer the news that Sergio had reached such a major milestone.

“Mayor Al was there the whole time during the event,” said Ciccolella. “When Sergio got out of school Al gave him his first job at the deli and he cleaned the tables, swept the floors, and he stayed a a years. Al loves him. Everybody loves him.”

Congratulations to this Nutley hard-working Eagle Scout.


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