Our national organization, the Boys & Girls Club of America, has a wonderful competition that gives Club members from around the world a chance to shine. This annual ‘Youth of the Year’ contest is just as it would seem—one Club member gets selected by a panel of judges based on his/her story—with winners going forward to state. Then, state winners go to regional and regional winners to national, with one extraordinary young man or woman becoming the face of Boys & Girls Clubs of America for an entire year. Oh, did I mention that the national winner gets a $25,000 scholarship, meets the President and does the Congressional Breakfast too? (cool, huh?)
Our representative for 2009, Courtney Johnson, follows in a long line of impressive winners and will carry our flag well in Madison next month. Courtney was adopted by her grandmother after significant issues at home, but has overcome those hardships to become a model Club member. Among other things, she volunteered over 200 hours last year and is a role model to younger members. Courtney is heavily involved in a variety of art room activities, participates in Keystone Club, SMART Girls, Outdoor Adventure Club and much more. Last, but not least, she is very protective of her younger siblings and helps her grandmother with every day tasks.
Previous winners of this Youth of the year contest include Joel Frisch, Alex Christon and Christina Sallis to go back just a few years…each have a compelling story of overcoming hardship(s) with help from the Club…and ultimately becoming successful. Christina went on to college—the first one from her family—and spoke at our Steak & Burger Banquet two years ago. Alex worked through losing one parent early in life and a severe speech impediment—among other challenges—to be a leader in our Clubhouse and role model to anyone willing to pay attention. (note: Alex spoke at a Board meeting—it’s the only time I’ve seen all those people quiet at once) Joel now works for the Club and is doing a great job.
We also had a past national Youth of the Year, Stacey Walker, speak at our Steak & Burger Banquet last year and he was superb. If technology allows, and it will once we figure it out, you will be able to watch Stacey’s speech via our Club web page (www.bgcgb.org) in the near future.
Next month I will join colleagues, elected officials and a few proud parents in Madison for our state Youth of the year contest…few things put life into perspective better.