Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County announces 2018 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, Youth of the Year

Photo by Cliff Roles: Youth of the Year finalists Fatima Demlak (left), Rickey Tedesco, Raven Gibson, Brandon Stewart and Kayla McGann

Three-hundreds guests gathered in the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club gymnasium on Friday, February 2, in anticipation for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County to announce its 2018 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year and 2018 Youth of the Year at the organization’s annual celebration of youth and alumni, Steak & Burger, which was presented by the Floyd C. Johnson & Flo Singer-Johnson Foundation.

Additional sponsorship support came from the Sarasota Kiwanis Foundation, Intertape Polymer Group, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Wells Fargo, Doris M. Carter Family Foundation, Irv and Marilyn Naiditch, Caldwell Trust Company, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Palm Printing, LongHorn Steakhouse, WUSF Public Media and Captivation Media Group. All proceeds raised from the event will give 7,000 local youth access to high-quality programs that help them do well in school, become leaders, live healthy lifestyles and create a plan for success after high school graduation.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County Board Chair Jonna Keller welcomed guests to this western-themed event before President/CEO Bill Sadlo took the stage and presented David Glorius with the 2018 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year award.

Photo by Cliff Roles: David Glorius (left) with Club member Lily and President/CEO Bill Sadlo

“This is such an honor, and I’m truly humbled to be recognized in this light,” said Glorius, who attended the Langley Park Boys Club in Maryland from 1967 to 1975 and chooses to give back to the cause by serving as a Board member at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. “I learned that there are 16 million Boys & Girls Clubs alumni from all across the world and from all walks of life. We share a common bond through our Club experience. I am just one who entered the Boys & Girls Clubs doors as a child, and left as an inspired young adult. Because of the Boys & Girls Clubs and the caring people like you all here tonight, there will be thousands more youth right here in Sarasota County who aspire to greatness.”

After the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year presentation, LongHorn Steakhouse served steaks to Club members and burgers to the adult guests. Finally, while guests enjoyed desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes, President/CEO Bill Sadlo returned on stage to announce the 2018 Youth of the Year.

Youth of the Year has been the premier recognition program of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America since 1947 that celebrates the extraordinary achievements of Club members across the nation. Five exemplary teens from each of the organization’s Club locations were finalists for this year’s local Youth of the Year title including Fatima Demlak, a 15-year-old sophomore at The Out-of-Door Academy from the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club; Raven Gibson, a 17-year-old junior at Booker High School who represents the Newtown Estates Park Boys & Girls Club; Kayla McGann, an 18-year-old senior at Booker High School who attends the Roy McBean Boys & Girls Club; Brandon Stewart, a 17-year-old senior at Sarasota Military Academy from the Gene Matthews Boys & Girls Club; and Rickey Tedesco, an 18-year-old senior at Venice High School who represents the Robert and Joan Lee Boys & Girls Club.

The finalists went through an extensive judging process before the event that included completing questionnaires, writing essays and being interviewed by a panel of judges made up of five community leaders and philanthropists including John Annis, Judith Brielmaier, Keith DuBose, Kathy Morrison and Joanne Powers.

Photo by Cliff Roles: Rickey Tedesco (left) with President/CEO Bill Sadlo

In the end, the panel selected Rickey Tedesco to represent the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County as the 2018 Youth of the Year.

“This means the world to me,” said Tedesco, who has been a member of the Robert and Joan Lee Boys & Girls Club in Venice since 2008. “The Boys & Girls Clubs have always been there for me, especially when I’m faced with challenging circumstances and need their support the most. The Boys & Girls Clubs have given me countless opportunities to help me achieve my dreams, especially as an aspiring singer. I found my voice to inspire others through my music at the Club. They’ve helped me build a stage that I can stand on and motivate others to make meaningful, lasting change. Without them, I wouldn’t be the positive, ambitious young man I am today. With them, my great future is in reach.”

Tedesco will go on to represent the organization at the State of Florida Youth of the Year Celebration, which will also be hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County April 12-14 at Lido Beach Resort and welcomes Youth of the Year representatives from every Boys & Girls Club across Florida. If he wins the Florida Youth of the Year title, Tedesco will advance to the regional level, then possibly the national celebration. Youth who compete at the state, regional, and national levels have the opportunity to become the 2018-2019 Boys & Girls Clubs of America Youth of the Year. The national winner will become the spokesperson for 4 million Boys & Girls Clubs members nationwide, win academic scholarships and have opportunities for life-changing experiences such as networking with celebrity alumni, speaking at national conferences and meeting the President of the United States.

“We are so proud of each of our Youth of the Year finalists,” said Sadlo. “Rickey is an exceptional young man who will do an incredible job representing our community in the next stage of the Youth of the Year competition. He is the perfect example of a Club member who has not let his past hardships change the course of the positive path he is currently on. That’s what our Clubs are all about.”