Arizona Teen Named Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Phoenix, Ariz. – Johana Lopez of Phoenix, was named Boys & Girls Club State Youth of the Year this week at the 12th Annual Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Legislative Breakfast, presented by Fiesta Bowl Charities. 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” promotes and celebrates service to the Club, community and family values, academic performance, moral character, life goals, poise and public speaking ability.

The 18-year-old Lopez, who attends the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix’s Ed Robson Branch, was chosen over eight other candidates representing Clubs across the state. After being named the winner at the breakfast at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Lopez will take home scholarships from Fiesta Bowl Charities and Tupperware Brands totaling $4,000. She has already been accepted into eight different colleges, carries a 4.3 GPA and plans to pursue a career in forensics, with the hopes of one day working for the FBI.

Last year alone, Lopez volunteered over 660 hours in her community, which included tutoring at two schools, mentoring younger girls and distributing food boxes in her neighborhood. She is currently a senior at Phoenix’s North Canyon High School.

While thanking those in attendance at the event, Lopez said, “The Boys & Girls Club has given me the keys to a future I thought was not possible.”

The event's other three finalists were Jessica Dubois from the Greater Scottsdale Clubs, Goel Ellis of Tucson, and Nicholas Groth, who represented the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley. The remaining five candidates were Maeghan Gabriel (BGC Casa Grande Valley), Selsa Juarez (BGC Aha Macav), Kimberlie Spigelmire (BGC Colorado River), Robert Tate (Yuma Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club) and Jon ONeill, from the Prescott-based Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arizona. The tenth candidate, Daj’zhane Radford, was chosen as the Youth of the Year among the state’s five military Clubs. Radford represented the Davis-Monthan AFB Youth Center.

Renowned philanthropist and international mountain guide Kevin Cherilla gave the event's passionate keynote address. The candidates also met one-on-one and as a group with Arizona Cardinals starting linebacker Sam Acho, who made an appearance before a morning team practice. Anthony Wimberly, the 2012 Arizona Youth of the Year, served as the Master of Ceremonies.

Participating judges were Ron Barnes, President of Arizona Transit Association & National Business Development Manager, Total Transit Inc.; Nancy McLain, four-term Arizona State Representative for District 3; Rick Horn, member of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors; Mary Murphy, Community Liason, Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families; and Lt. Gen. Robert B. Johnston, U.S.M.C. (Ret).

Before the breakfast, candidates were treated to a day of fun and team-building activities, including a night out to see the Arizona Diamondbacks host the St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field.

Sponsored by Tupperware Brands, 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. The five regional winners and one national winner each will receive educational scholarships from Tupperware Brands.