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  • Fairbury News staff

Powerful messages shared


The 2020 Boys and Girls Club local Youth of the Year, Xavier Watson.

Powerful messages of overcoming challenges and taking advantage of opportunities were shared Wednesday morning during the Boys and Girls Club of Prairie Central’s annual fundraising breakfast.


“We need to intentionally look for the heartbeats of those children and make a difference,” said Lesley King, who gave the keynote address. “The door of opportunity is open right now.”


King told attendees at the Walton Centre that it only takes one heart to touch in order to make a difference in our homes, community and the world. Young people who meet with mentors are more likely to graduate on time and hold leadership positions.


“If you are breathing, you have potential,” King added.


Xavier Watson was named the 2020 Youth of the Year. He will represent the organization at the state level in April. Following a difficult childhood, Watson went from club member to staff member in order to make a positive impact on kids.


“Most kids would probably give up and quit, but I had a good support system to help me keep moving forward through every obstacle,” Watson told Fairbury News following the event.


Watson said the club has helped him with leadership skills and getting up in front of large crowds as he did on Wednesday.


Volunteer Michael Blackwell from Dimond Brothers Insurance helped judge the youth award candidates, calling it an incredibly difficult task.


“The youth worked really hard to prepare some speeches that have to meet certain criteria then, luckily, we have a matrix so we can go line by line,” he said.


The other Youth of the Year candidate, Charlene Ahrends, explained how she learned many life skills by playing volleyball and meeting new friends at the Boys and Girls Club.


“I learned how to be a good team player and accept defeat,” Ahrends explained.


Ahrends has seen both sides as well – serving on the staff and as a member. Her overall goal is to help as many kids as possible while keeping them in a safe environment.

Fourth grader Ella Farrell, who attends Prairie Central Elementary, told the crowd how important the club is to her. She especially enjoys taking field trips, playing outside and seeing friends.


“I appreciate everyone involved with the club.”


Jasmine Mauricio from the Chatsworth club sang “Memories” by Maroon 5 in honor of Taylor, a previous Boys and Girls Club staff member and Maleia McNamara from the Chenoa club sang, “Call to the Wild” by Zombies 2.


Boys and Girls Club of Livingston County CEO Jodi Martin said the breakfast focused on doing whatever it takes to build great futures for the young people involved.


“Today, we are here to celebrate our youth and their stories,” Martin explained.


Martin shared a goal of building a new state-of-the-art building with a senior center in Fairbury. This is something still in the talking phase with plenty of work ahead.


“With the generous support of our community, I know this can come to fruition,” said Martin. “We know it is possible.”

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