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Exceptional Teen Receives Most Prestigious Honor; Named Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of Hutchinson

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Zion Burgess to receive college scholarship and compete for state title in March 2024

By the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hutchinson

 

Hutchinson, Kan. – Last week the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hutchinson hosted its annual Youth of the Year banquet. Selected among three outstanding youth, Zion Burgess has been named the 2024 Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of Hutchinson. The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. The program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire. As the local Youth of the Year, Zion will serve as an ambassador for all teens in the local Club. He will receive a $1,000 college scholarship thanks to Heartland Credit Union and will compete in the Kansas Youth of the Year competition next spring.

Zion is a senior at Hutchinson High School and has been a Club member for 6 years. He is on the football team and track team at Hutchinson High School, as well as an honor student and active in leadership groups. At the Club, Zion is active in Club programs such as Passport 2 Manhood, Keystone Club, and Road Code. Zion enjoys helping other members with their homework during Power Hour: “Helping with homework and watching kids find joy in succeeding makes me feel proud of my role.”

Zion said, “If I could spread one message to everyone, it would be to be brave in who you are and to please yourself before you please others.

“I knew I was part of something bigger than somewhere to go after school when I heard, ‘Hey, Burgess, get them into Boys & Girls Club.’ I take this assignment very seriously and figure out, ‘Do they need the Club or does the Club need them.’ And it is ALWAYS a little bit of both. You see at the Club we show up for ALL kids, THOSE KIDS are OUR KIDS. We grow up hearing this, but Miss Tabetha Gray has taught me how to unconditionally accept and love people no matter their gender, the color of their skin or the shoes on their feet.”

“Youth of the Year is our highest honor and proof of the power of the Boys & Girls Club experience,” said Lance Patterson, Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Hutchinson. “As Hutchinson Youth of the Year, Zion will be an ambassador and role model for our Club members for 2024.”

Taysha Rideaux and Camrynn Harris were each named as runners up. To view the Youth of the Year speeches, visit youtube.com/bgchutch. For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit http://www.youthoftheyear.org.

Lifetime Recognition Award Given

During the Youth of the Year banquet, the Club also announced a recognition award.

Helen Unruh, former board member and longtime friend, was recognized with a lifetime service award for her dedication and passion. She often says that she learned so much during her time on the board and is continuing to learn now. It’s not enough that she understands and appreciates the work her support makes possible at the Club. She is dedicated to showing everyone she knows what the Club is all about. This year alone, she has brought more than 50 people on a Club tour to see firsthand what Boys & Girls Clubs really do for local kids and teens.

Junior Youth of the Year Named

Junior Youth of the Year recognizes the Club’s younger teen members for their emerging leadership abilities while preparing them for later participation in the Youth of the Year program.

Gabe M., a student at Hutchinson Middle School – 8, was recognized as the Junior Youth of the Year. He received the Skip Wilson Junior Youth of the Year scholarship. Gabe attributes his first job, business management skills, and financial acumen to the Club, particularly through the Money Matters program. Within the Club, Gabe contributes by assisting fellow members. Notably, during EPIC Skillz, he provided valuable guidance to a peer grappling with a photography concept, sharing pointers that proved beneficial.

Fund-the-Need Transports to Club Sites

Each day after school, the Club’s small fleet of five vehicles and a couple of Durham busses stop at each USD 308 elementary school, middle school, and high school to pick up hundreds of kids and take them to the Boys & Girls Clubs. Over 450 local families depend on the Club and the transportation it provides. The oldest vehicle in the fleet is a 2008 Chevy passenger van. At the event, the club raised $40,000 of the $56,000 needed to replace it with a more reliable van.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Hutchinson

Since 1990 the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hutchinson has been serving local youth. Our mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Our vision is to provide a world-class Club Experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who walks through our doors, with all members on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship and living a healthy lifestyle.