Greg Toutges, 67, Moorhead
Nominated by Harvey Laabs, 79, West Fargo, N.D.
The story: I met Greg in 2000 when we were both on a multiple sclerosis fund-raising bicycle ride called the Ride across Minnesota (TRAM). This event lasts five days, with about 300 miles of cycling. At that time, I thought he was "just another fun person to be around." It was about a dozen years later that I learned Greg has MS. This was surprising to me because I didn't expect anyone with MS to have such a positive outlook since it can be a pretty debilitating disease. Around 2014, I saw Greg again on the MS ride. When he got off his bike, one of his friends was waiting with two walking sticks. By 2016, Greg had shifted to a tricycle made for long-distance riding. The trike was heavy, which took more effort on his part to complete each day's ride. But Greg never complained. A few years ago, as a retirement gift to himself, he purchased a trike with a battery-operated motor. He's since ridden thousands of miles annually. Recently, Greg told me that he was diagnosed with MS at 24 and, although the doctor said he would likely never be able to be very physically active, he didn't buy it. He continues to find ways to stay active. And he continues to inspire me to also stay physically active. I am already registered for the 2022 MS five-day ride in July. And I'm so glad that this "fun person to be around" is hoping to be there, too, on his new trike.
Dr. Vic Cox, 81, Arden Hills
Nominated by his granddaughter, Clara Ann Bagnoli, 15, St. Paul
The story: My grandpa was a professor of veterinary medicine and even after he retired, his love for learning continues. He is constantly reading essays, science journals, lab reports, books and all of the work I do for school. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's and ALS, which have taken their toll on his motor and speaking abilities. Yet he continues to seek out learning. I am an athlete along with being a student, and it often can be overwhelming. But I am inspired to keep going when I visit my grandpa and see how, even using a wheelchair, he has the same drive and compassion for knowledge and health that he always had. My grandfather's positive yet humble attitude and enthusiasm for life and learning inspire me to be the best I possibly can be.
Nira Rajan, 54, Plymouth
Nominated by her son, Dilshan Rajan, 18, Plymouth
The story: My mom has inspired me ever since I started Scouts in second grade. Everything I have achieved was because of her guidance and support. She helped me through challenges and even accompanied me on camp-outs and patrol activities. My mom and dad are from Sri Lanka and they did a lot of outdoor activities and exploring. They wanted me and my brother to have a similar experience. Scouting was the perfect organization to do that. When I had the opportunity to attend a Northern Tier high adventure sampler weekend, which is the premier Scouts BSA experience, I was reluctant to go. I thought it would be too cold and not much fun. But it was a great experience. My mom also encouraged me to go to Sea Base in the Bahamas and that was the highlight of my scouting career. My mom has worked tirelessly, pushing me to complete merit badges and take on leadership positions in scouting. And she's been the biggest influence on me to achieve the Eagle Scout rank.