Our 2014 Stars for Tomorrow Youth of the Year awards banquet at Snap-on Incorporated was a huge success!
Over 250 supporters gathered to pay tribute to Ronnie Nieves, our 2014 Youth of the Year. The Kenosha Noon Optimist Club has supported the Kenosha Youth of the Year program for many years and this year was no different. Ronnie impressed the gathering with his “What the Boys & Girls Club Means to Me” speech, for which he received a standing ovation.
Representatives from many local businesses were in attendance and sponsored tables. These included: Carthage College, Dooley & Associates, Equity Creative, Finishing & Plating Service, Forever Floors, Frontida, Gateway Mortgage, Gateway Technical College, Herbert’s Jewelers, Johnson Bank, Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Menominee Indian Tribe, Pitts Brothers & Associates, Riley Construction, Tirabassi Felland & Clark, Uline, UW-Parkside, Walgreens and Zilber.
As host, Snap-on Incorporated put on a great show that culminated with them receiving the club’s first annual Torch Award for Community Partnership. The award was accepted by Snap-on CEO Nick Pinchuk, who shared some very inspirational and kind words about Nakiathe Boys & Girls Club movement.
Acting as co-emcees were Bryan Albrecht from Gateway Technical College and 12-year-old Club member, Na’Kia Hughes. Both did a fantastic job!
13-year-old Nicholas Daly provided a stirring rendition of the National Anthem and board vice president Crystal Miller asked the audience to participate in a moment of silence for deceased board member David Barnes, after which she shared the invocation.
Na’Kia was selected to award the Boys & Girls Club Woman & Youth Award to Natalie Troha, in recognition of her long-time support for the club — specifically through Natalie Troha’s Pride of Kenosha event, which has been a favorite holiday kickoff for nearly 700 TrohaKenoshans for 18 years.
Natalie followed that award up with a Helping Hands Award presentation to Lisa Block from Herbert’s Jewelers. Herbert’s has donated beautiful jewelry to the Pride of Kenosha event raffle for nearly the entire time the event has been in existence.
DalyFollowing that presentation was Nicholas Daly returning to the stage to perform two songs. The first one was “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder. For the second song, “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly, Nicholas was joined by ten young Club members who sang accompaniment for a very inspirational presentation.
The Club members stayed on the stage for the Thank You presentation to Governor Scott Walker, who assisted statewide Boys & Girls Clubs this year by providing $2 million in the state Walkerbudget for the Wisconsin After 3 Program. The Governor was introduced by Club gang prevention staffers Dennis Bedford and Gary Vargas. When he came to the stage he was given a large Thank You card signed by Club members and a Boys & Girls Club tee shirt, which he enthusiastically wore. The youth members staged a “Thank You” after which the Governor made brief remarks thanking all in the audience for supporting the Boys & Girls Club.
Eric Olson, chair of the Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival, then awarded Jerry Rasmussen of The Brat Stop a Helping Hands Award in recognition of The Brat Stop’s phenomenal support of the annual event. An emotional Rasmussen lauded the youth who were on the stage and humbly accepted the award on behalf of the iconic institution.
MillsClub President David Wilk then presented the Mary Frost Ashley Award to the Steve & Marti Mills family, which has long been supporters of the CYC and the Boys & Girls Club. Steve came to Kenosha in the early 1970′s and was hired as Sports Director of the CYC by Carrol Rikli. Both Steve and Marti had been on the Club’s board of directors and also made a $100,000 contribution to the new building. Son, SR, is a member of the club’s associate board and played in the tackle football program.
One of the highlights of the evening was the unveiling of the Club’s two new videos which were created and made available through a donation from Equity Creative. Board member Charlie Skendziel of Equity Creative introduced the videos, which were enthusiastically received by the audience.
Congressman Paul Ryan then fired up the crowd with his announcement that he had Ryantoured many Boys & Girls Clubs and none were as nice as the Kenosha Club. He presented the outgoing president’s plaque to Mike Pitts, Jr. After Pitts made some emotional thank you remarks, Congressman Ryan surprised him with additional recognition: Pitts had been nominated for a Boys & Girls Club of America National Medallion by the board of directors of the local Club, and it was presented by Congressman Ryan.
Pitts then stayed on the stage for the highlight of the evening, the Torch Award presentation to Mr. Pinchuk.
BGCA Midwest Region Vice President Fred Paulke wrapped things up by congratulating all in the audience and noting that the Kenosha Club is one of the finest in the country.