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Ana Thibodeau is 2010 Youth of the Year nominee

Ana Thibodeau, 2010 Buckley Youth Programs Youth of the Year. (Courtesy photo)

Ana Thibodeau, 2010 Buckley Youth Programs Youth of the Year. (Courtesy photo)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Buckley Air Force Base Youth Programs participated in its first Boys and Girls Club of America State Youth of the Year Program in downtown Denver March 22-23.

Ana Thibodeau, 2010 Buckley Youth Programs Youth of the Year, competed with 11 other winners from across Colorado. Two days of intense activities consisted of each youth presenting speeches and participating in a video recording, the Billy Thomas Award Dinner, being presented at the capital to the State Representatives and Senators, touring and enjoying the programs at Denver Nature and Science Museum and Colorado BGCA Youth of the Year presentation.

Each youth presented a speech on why BGCA is important to them, what programs have made the most impact in their life, and their Billy Thomas Award mentor March 22. During each speech, judges graded their style, prose and speaking ability. After the speeches, youth were individually videotaped by a movie producer regarding what BGCA meant to them. The video was later shown at the Youth of the Year Presentation and on YouTube.

Each youth were given an opportunity to present a mentor from their club who had an impact on their life during the Billy Thomas Award dinner March 22. According to Denzel Washington's book, "A Hand to Guide Me," he "recalls the tremendous influence of a Boys Club employee named Billy Thomas, whom he idolized to the point of copying his signature. "I just thought this guy was it, you know?" Because of the impact Billy Thomas had on Denzel Washington's life, an award, The Billy Thomas Award, is now given to mentors who have had an impact on Youth of the Year recipient's life.

Ana Thibodeau's Billy Thomas Award went to Wendy Clouse, Buckley Youth Programs recreation assistant, for her interest and encouragement in Ana to participate in programs, events and activities. According to Ana, many of the activities that she was encouraged to participate in has helped her to share the skills learned with her peers.

On the second day, youth met at the capital and were given an opportunity to individually meet their Legislature and Senator. The youth sat on the floor during the session with a sponsor from their BGCA club and were introduced to the assembly. A tour of the Capitol Building and a trip to the Denver Science and Nature Museum were given after the youth sat in part of the morning session.

Youth, BGCA board members, leaders and parents met at the Denver Arts Museum in the late afternoon. Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. and Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien, as well as many Colorado legislators, attended the Youth of the Year presentation. During the presentation, Ana Thibodeau was awarded $500 from College Invest and $500 from David Svaldi, Adams State College president.
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