FOX Sports Wisconsin Youth of the Year

Celebrating Club members that demonstrate exceptional character and accomplishments

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The Youth of the Year program dates back to 1947 and celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. Those selected are recognized for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their families.

Participants are chosen on both local and state levels. From those participants, five regional winners are selected to meet every September in Washington, D.C. to compete for the National Youth of the Year title. Five judges interview each candidate and select the winner based on scholastic achievement, community service, leadership ability, and consideration of any physical, social or emotional obstacles that were overcome.

All five regional winners are honored at a Congressional Breakfast on Capitol Hill and have an opportunity to meet the President of the United States in the White House. In addition, each regional winner receives a $10,000 scholarship and the National Youth of the Year receives an additional college scholarship totaling up to $50,000. Each state winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship. Scholarships are made possible by Tupperware Brands Corporation and The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation.

FOX Sports Wisconsin is a long-standing local funder of the Youth of the Year program.

2018 FOX Sports Wisconsin Youth of the Year: Daijahnay Canady

Daijahnay Canady is the 2018 FOX Sports Wisconsin Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. Daijahnay first learned about the great opportunities at Boys & Girls Clubs through its Denim Day event, a day to raise awareness that a person’s clothing is never an excuse for rape or sexual assault. Since then, Daijahnay participated in programs such as Keystone Clube, Celebrating G.I.R.L.S and BMO Scholars, embracing the bountiful support she felt at the St. Joan Antida Boys & Girls Club.

“They helped me overcome my problems and they encourage me to do better in school,” Daijahnay says of the staff at Boys & Girls Clubs. “This place is like a second home to me, they are my family and are always there when I need them.”

Thanks to the encouragement of the Clubs, Daijahnay decided it was time to share her own story about being a sexual abuse survivor. “I decided if sharing my story can help other people on their journey to healing, then it is well worth facing down my own fears,” she says. That determination for self-improvement extended to her studies, as her GPA grew 79 percent since her freshman year. Daijahnay is now captain of her high school’s mock trial team, and after first being introduced to the Clubs thanks to its Denim Day event, she led the planning for this year’s event in April.

After high school, Daijahnay plans to attend Arizona State University or Marquette University to study law, where we’re positive she’ll inspire even more people.

Youth of the Year finalist: Charlysse Baker

Referring to the Mary Ryan Club as her “personal utopia,” Charlysse Baker embraces her academic successes and those of her peers with her trademark charisma. As a Club member for nine years, Charlysse seeks opportunities to mentor other youth and involves herself in a variety of Club programs, including Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Lyricism 101, Career Launch, Money Matters, and Junior Achievement as well as serving as president of both the Keystone and Torch Clubs at Mary Ryan. Charlysse may only be a freshman in high school, but she already has big plans for a future in business and the arts as an investor.

Youth of the Year finalist: Taviah Holmes

Taviah Holmes sees the Milwaukee Collegiate Academy Club as a crucial avenue to keep youth “out of trouble and bring them positivity and many opportunities.” A leader among her peers, Taviah participates in Keystone Club, Driver’s Ed and Celebrating G.I.R.L.S opportunities at the MCA Club, which she credits as “molding me into my best self.” Taviah has been an excceptional student all four years of high school, taking honors and advanced placement classes since her freshman year and maintaining a cumulative 3.6 grade point average. She plans to attend Grambling State University, majoring in business with a minor in pre-law.

Youth of the Year finalist: Giovanni Perez

A Club member for eight years, Giovanni Perez is a leader at the Don & Sallie Davis Boys & Girls Club. He works with fellow youth in the Club’s Keystone program and in football, soccer, softball and basketball at the Club’s gym, seeking opportunities to lift his peers up. Giovanni refers to the Davis Club as the “cherry on top” of his life, noting the Club gave him “integrity to do what I want in life.” A senior in high school, Giovanni is actively working to join the fire cadet program and hopes to become a fire chief one day.

Youth of the Year finalist: Lowrese Riggins

Lowrese Riggins believes the Pieper-Hillside Boys & Girls Club has been a “safe environment for my siblings and I.” Lowrese embraced the opportunities available at the Pieper-Hillside Club, becoming the co-captain of the cheer team, president of the Keystone Club, and participating in programs like Earn and Learn and Celebrating G.I.R.L.S. Lowrese has also competed in two regional forensics competitions, winning multiple first place awards She is passionate about providing assistance to others who struggle with obstacles in life, namely those out of their control. Lowrese willl graduate from high school this spring and plans to major in biochemistry at Marquette University.

Youth of the Year finalist: Ee Thao

High school junior Ee Thao believes the Bay View High School Club gave her the chance “show who I am without being afraid of being judged.” In addition to her academic excellence, in which she maintained honor roll status throughout high school, she views her involvement in programs like BMO Scholars, Color Guard and Keystone Club as “opportunities for a better future.” Ee enjoys passing her passions on to others, even becoming an instructor for younger Club members in the LEGO Robotics program. Her involvement at the Clubs has led to an interest in a variety of career paths, including engineering, nursing and the culinary arts. Ee plans to attend UW-Madison.

Youth of the Year finalist: Montrell Watson

Montrell Watson describes his Boys & Girls Clubs experience as “life-changing.” As an honor roll student and senior at Washington High School, Montrell excels in his academics while welcoming numerous opportunities after school, such as working at his Clubs’ bike shop. He not only appreciates the valuable work experience he’s had at the Clubs, but enjoys mentoring younger Club members, who he’s grown to see as his “younger brothers and sisters.” Montrell aims to attend a two-year technical college in an IT or engineering field before working toward his bachelor’s degree in engineering.