Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus has named Jonathan “Jack” Pelzar of the Town of Newburgh as September’s Citizen of the Month.
Pelzar, 15, was recognized for recently earning the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and his many contributions and dedication to the community.
“Scouting prepares young men and women to be good citizens and leaders, promoting values such as service to others, loyalty, honesty and patriotism,” Neuhaus said. “Jonathan has exhibited hard work, perseverance and a willingness to go above and beyond for our residents. He has also bravely faced epilepsy with toughness and grace. Jonathan has inspired us all with his courage, and we are proud of his commitment to making Orange County an even better place to live.”
For Jonathan’s Eagle Scout service project in May, he renovated the trail #5 site at Chadwick Lake in Newburgh, putting a new roof on the gazebo and sanding and staining it. He also built a new picnic table and cleared the area around the site. Pelzar, a member of BSA Troop 64, Greater Hudson Valley, has been a Scout for eight years.
Pelzar is entering his sophomore year at Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, N.J., where he maintains a 4.28 grade point average. He participates in crew and hockey and volunteers his time coaching. Pelzar is also a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He was admitted to the Boston Leadership Institute’s pre-surgery summer courses and to Columbia University’s Cell and Molecular Biology of Medicine for high school students, finishing at the top of the class.
Pelzar was inspired to study medicine after he was diagnosed with nocturnal epilepsy at the age of nine. He suffers from nocturnal seizures, which are uncontrolled spasms or convulsions that occur when a person is sleeping. People who have nocturnal seizures often struggle with disrupted sleep, which in turn aggravates the seizures.
Pelzar underwent stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) surgery on July 12 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. SEEG is a procedure that is used to identify the areas of the brain where epileptic seizures originate. During SEEG, doctors place electrodes in targeted brain areas, which are then monitored to precisely locate the source of the seizure. Pelzar may have to undergo additional surgeries in the future. He returns to school later this month.
Pelzar resides with his father, Steven, a Sergeant with the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office, and mother, Christine, a Special Education teacher at Inspire.
“I am extremely grateful for all of the opportunities that I have been given and am very proud to be named Citizen of the Month by the County Executive,” Pelzar said. “My battle with epilepsy has taught me to work harder than most, not to take any day for granted, and has put me on a track to help others through the pursuit of a career in medicine. The long path to becoming an Eagle Scout and Black Belt have taught me that it is the process, not the product, that earns you these true honors. I look forward to furthering my education in medicine to help others, and to encourage and educate other youth in our community to pursue similar paths if desired.”
Neuhaus introduced his Citizen of the Month Award, which acknowledges outstanding Orange County residents, in January of 2017. To nominate someone for the Citizen of the Month Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a letter to “Citizen of the Month” at 255-275 Main Street Goshen, NY 10924. Be sure to include the nominee’s name, hometown, a list of their accomplishments, why you are nominating them, and any other pertinent information. Nominees must be from Orange County.