For over 70 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Youth of the Year program has honored and celebrated the nation’s most inspiring teens and their incredible journeys to success. While the program recognizes Boys & Girls Clubs members with stories of outstanding leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle, the program also encourages them to compete for the prestigious Boys & Girls Clubs of America Youth of the Year title through local, state, regional and national competitions. The national winner will become a role model, ambassador and spokesperson for 4 million Boys & Girls Clubs members nationwide, receive academic scholarships and have opportunities for life-changing experiences such as networking with celebrity alumni, securing internships with national partners, speaking at national conferences and meeting U.S. leaders and elected officials.
On February 2, three-hundred guests witnessed Rickey Tedesco secure the 2018 Youth of the Year title for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County at the agency’s annual Steak & Burger Celebration of Youth and Outstanding Alumni, which was held at the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club.
Rickey, an 18-year-old senior who will graduate from Venice High in May, has been a member of the Robert and Joan Lee Boys & Girls Club in Venice since 2007. Rickey, as well as other Youth of the Year representatives from Boys & Girls Clubs across the state, traveled to the Florida Youth of the Year Celebration at Lido Beach Resort April 12-14, and shared their inspirational stories with a panel of judges in the hopes of being named the 2018 Florida Youth of the Year.
On Friday, April 13, the panel selected Rickey to represent the state of Florida as the 2018 Florida Youth of the Year. The title and $5,000 was presented to Rickey by Elizabeth Fowlkes, Senior Vice President of Program, Training and Youth Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“The Boys & Girl Club has shed so much love and acceptance upon me since my first day in 2007,” said Rickey. “I was immediately embraced with love and care by all of the Club staff and members. I was welcomed into a place that quickly became my home away from home. This award is such an honor, and I am proud to represent our state as the Florida Youth of the Year.”
Rickey will advance to the Southeast Youth of the Year Celebration at the Georgia Aquarium on June 14 in Atlanta, GA. If he wins the 2018 Southeast Youth of the Year title, Rickey will go on to the National Youth of the Year Celebration in September at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
“Rickey is an exceptional Club member who is going to represent not only Sarasota County well, but the entire state of Florida and all of its associated Boys & Girls Clubs organizations,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. “Rickey makes a positive, lasting impression on everyone he meets, and we know he will continue to impact so many lives and communities with his story. We can’t wait to see what he does next.”
Photos by Lori Sax