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Youth of the Year

Congratulations to the 2017 Arizona State Youths of the Year!

presented by:

Leonel Cano Leon of Phoenix and MaKenzie Jones of Yuma

Leonel Cano Leon, of Phoenix, and MaKenzie Jones of Yuma, were honored last week as Boys & Girls Club State “Youth of the Year” at the 16th Annual Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Legislative Breakfast, presented by Fiesta Bowl Charities.

ttorney General Mark Brnovich attended and provided welcoming remarks at the Youth of the Year ceremony hosted by Talking Stick Arena in downtown Phoenix. The keynote address was delivered by Vicki Mayo, the chief executive officer for TouchPoint Solutions. Attendees included student nominees and their families, Boys & Girls Club supporters, state and local officials and other dignitaries.

Leon, 18, the State of Arizona Youth of the Year winner, currently attends North Canyon High School. He is a representative of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix, and has been a dedicated member of the Ed Robson Family Branch since it first opened its doors in 2008. Leo participates in all opportunities offered at his Club, and inspires the younger members by teaching art and dance, as well as coaching soccer. He plans to attend Arizona State University and aspires to be a visual artist for Disney or Marvel Studios.

Jones, 14, the State of Arizona Military Youth of the Year, currently attends Kofa High School in Yuma. She is a representative of the MCAS Yuma Youth Center. She participates in many after school clubs, such as National Honor Society, Junior State of America, and French club, and takes part in Academic Decathlon. She has a very keen interest in reading and writing, and plans to be author as well as a behavioral analyst for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in her future.

Both teens were honored for their exceptional accomplishments in overcoming adversity, serving their community and achieving academic excellence. Each will receive scholarship support from national sponsors Disney, the University of Phoenix, Toyota and the Taco Bell Foundation.

The national Youth of the Year recognition program is the cornerstone of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Character and Leadership Development core program area. Youth of the Year celebrates service to the Club, community values, academic performance, moral character, life goals, poise and public-speaking ability.

Other Boys & Girls Club candidates that were recognized at the event include: Leo Martinez, Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley; Jacob Thompson, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River; Serena Mena , Boys & Girls Clubs of the Casa Grande Valley; Kyla Silas, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale; Karla Figueroa Leon, Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson; Princessa Orona, Boys & Girls Clubs of Aha Macav; Nathan Gauthier, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sierra Vista; Maria Walker, Boys & Girls Clubs of White Mountain Apache; Shareef Cuthbert, Boys & Girls Club of Davis Monthan AFB; and Brennan Robin, Boys & Girls Club of Luke Air Force Base.

Participating judges for the Youth of the Year award were: Head Judge Stan Goligoski – Executive Director Yavapai County Education Service Agency; Maria Brink – National Manager Customer Relations Toyota Financial Services; Trisha Constas – Senior Vice President Enterprise & Community Engagement Bank of America; Carla Friedman – Youth Program Manager Arizona Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Family; Nancy Hennigan – Director of Strategic Partnerships University of Phoenix, and Kelly Schindler – Community Relations Coordinator Fiesta Charities.

Presented by Disney, the National Youth of the Year program is designed to promote and recognize service to the community and Club, academic performance and contributions to family and spiritual life. State winners advance to regional competitions. Six regional winners and one military winner will ultimately compete to be named National Youth of the Year, which includes a $25,000 scholarship that may be renewed up to four times annually for a total value of $100,000.


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