Miryne Thomas, a senior student athlete at Cleveland Central Catholic High School, was named the 2017 Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland at a ceremony Friday. At the same event, Cleveland Indians Chairman and CEO Paul Dolan was honored as the inaugural Youth Champion of the Year.
Emcee for the event was WKYC News anchor Sara Shookman.
For the past 11 years, Miryne has been a member of the King Kennedy Club, where he serves as president of the Keystone Club leadership group, mentors younger members and helps the staff. At Cleveland Central Catholic High School, he has been an honor student and a starter on the varsity basketball team.
“King Kennedy Boys & Girls Club has been a safe haven not just for me but also for my friends and siblings,” Miryne said.
Miryne, 17, also volunteers at a homeless shelter on the West Side as well as serving food and making beds at Haven of Rest Ministries. He plans to study accounting at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in the fall.
Miryne was selected over five other candidates at today’s Breakfast of Champions at BGCC’s Broadway Club. As the Youth of the Year, he will receive a $5,000 college scholarship from Cleveland Indians Charities and move on to a statewide competition.
Finishing second in the Youth of the Year completion was Devonte Simon, a senior at Heights High School in Cleveland Heights and a Heights Youth Club member, while Jovanny Matos, a senior at James Ford Rhodes High School and a Lincoln West Teen Center member, placed third. Devonte, who plans to attend Hiram College, will receive a $3,000 scholarship from Cleveland Indians Charities while Jovanny, who has been accepted into the Kent State University School of Fashion Design, will receive a $2,000 scholarship.
Other finalists were Kievra Harris, a senior at Cleveland School of the Arts and a Broadway Club member; Rikki Kyle, a senior at Beaumont School and an East Cleveland Club member; and Samuel McKnight, a senior at Ginn Academy and a member of the John Adams Teen Center.
Dolan, chairman and CEO of the American League Champion Cleveland Indians, was the first recipient of the Youth Champion of the Year. The honor goes to a member of BGCC’s Circle of Champions who inspires and enables young people to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.
The team’s charitable arm, Cleveland Indians Charities, has been a strong supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland through financial, in-kind and volunteer efforts. CIC provides funding for scholarships for three of BGCC’s Youth of the Year finalists; the Ready Reader Plus program, which helps underperforming K-3rd grade students improve their literacy and math skills; and Brain Gain, which aims to prevent summer learning loss and moves youth towards better futures.
The Indians have also donated hundreds of game tickets as well as the annual Thanksgiving Day meal at Progressive Field for Club kids and their families.
Keynote speaker Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, praised BGCC for “providing tremendous value to the community.” He said a study showed that for every dollar invested in the Clubs, about $10 is returned to the community.
Clark, who spent eight years as head of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee before being named to his present position in 2012, now leads a network of more than 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serving some four million youth annually. He has introduced a number of innovative programs, including state-of-the-art STEM initiatives and Brain Gain, which combats summer learning loss.
BGCA recently launched an exciting new strategic direction called the Great Futures Impact Plan.
Founded in 1954, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland serves about 8,600 youth in Cleveland’s inner-city neighborhoods, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland and Garfield Heights. The Clubs provide a safe place for children to learn and grow, to develop ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals, to engage in life-enhancing programs and to create a culture of hope and opportunity.
BGCC’s mission is to inspire and enable young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.