Written by Kimberly Hill, American Red Cross staff contributor
Ethan Campbell is only 13 years old, but he has experienced a lot — both good and bad — in such a short amount of time. And now he’s the perfect example of perseverance.
“When he was young, he had a lot of trouble concentrating in school, and social situations were often difficult for him,” said Erlynne Campbell, his mother.
Ethan was diagnosed with severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at an early age then Asperger Syndrome a few years later.
"ADHD and Asperger Syndrome have definitely affected Ethan’s ability to function in school and social situations, but they also give him the ability to think completely outside the box and see the world through an entirely different lens,” Erlynne said. “Ethan is a remarkable young man. He has always been extremely curious about the world around him and fascinated with the way things work.”
Erlynne said Ethan is an “excellent” student. He just finished the eighth grade, where he took advanced courses and earned mostly As. He already has three high school credits, and he’s taking two additional high school classes this summer just to be ahead.
“He has big plans to become a robotics engineer when he grows up,” Erlynne said.
But for the time being, he is more focused on his Eagle Scout project. This Saturday, June 30, Ethan will host an American Red Cross blood drive for the Allen community.
“He chose to do this blood drive with the Red Cross because he wanted to perform a completely charitable act that would make a profound difference in a lot of people’s lives,” his mother said. “Ethan is a very kind and compassionate young man. As his parents, we feel we are blessed to have him as our son — he has definitely made a profound impact on us.”
Kelly Carlin, the Red Cross donor recruitment representative for the drive, said she has become close to the Campbell family through Ethan’s project.
“He is a very special young man,” she said. “He is so incredibly intelligent that the level he is on is way beyond the average person. I have just fallen in love with this family (which also includes Chris, his father, and Tristan, his younger brother) and will probably be in their life forever.”
But as Ethan has worked on his project, he has run into quite a few challenges. For one, the drive is scheduled for the middle of the summer, when many of his friends and fellow church members will be out of town and unable to donate.
“He is working so hard to get sign-ups and is realizing the struggle the Red Cross runs into every day, and that is to convince people to donate,” Carlin said.
While Ethan’s social disorder makes it difficult for him to express himself to others, he has spent time scripting what he is going to say before he says it, Erlynne explained.
“His confidence has grown in leaps and bounds as he has approached groups, store owners and complete strangers to ask them to help spread the word and to donate blood,” she said. “He has been so encouraged by the positive feedback people have given him, and it’s a joy to see the strength and leadership he has developed through this experience.”
Saturday’s blood drive with the Red Cross will be the final step in Ethan’s journey toward Eagle Scout. He hopes to be awarded with the rank advancement before he turns 14, his mother said.
The drive will be at the east Allen chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1404 E. Main St., in Cultural Hall from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments to donate at Ethan’s drive are not required but can be made at www.redcrossblood.org or 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).