Watch KVAL News at 6 on Wednesday, May 22, for more on this story
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Mikal Dewar has spent two years making hats for cancer patients as the 17-year-old works towards earning the Gold Award, Girl Scouting's highest achievement.
"My grandpa has passed away from cancer," Mikal, a Girl Scout Ambassador, "and I thought it would be a good idea to like make a program where you could take these hats or blankets and give it to other cancer patients."
Girl Scouts at the Ambassador level must come up with a project that displays courage, confidence and character while making a difference in their community. Only 6 girls in Lane County have earned the Gold Award since 2008.
Mikal calls her project Hats for Smiles. With the help of her mom and grandmother, Dewar is just a few dozen beanie hats away from reaching her goal of making 200 hats to hand out to cancer patients.
"It just makes me want to get more involved with the community and help," Mikal said. "When I wasn't in Girl Scouts it was like 'Oh those are just people in the community,' and now it's like 'I can do something about that.'"
While many girls are familiar with the early phases of girl scouts like Daisies, Brownies and even Juniors, Mikal's mom said many girls drop out after that - and miss out on key learning experiences at the Cadette, Senior and Ambassador levels.
"Some kids don't want to go to school and say I'm in Girl Scouts. 'Well why are you in Girl Scouts...? That's dumb.' Well, it really isn't," said Nedra Dewar, Mikal's mom. "It teaches them a lot of adulthood things they can learn in life."
Nedra says she's very proud of her daughter's achievment and perseverance.
"To see her when she started, the shy little girl, to coming out and talking to the community has been amazing," she said.
Mikal is just a few months away from completing her project, but she said that doesn't mean the end of her Hats for Smiles program.
"Afterward I'm going to give it to my grandma and she's gonna keep continuing this project over the years," she said.