The Boys & Girls Club of Craig’s 2010 People of the Year award winners:
• Man and Woman of the Year:
Tom and Helen Knez
• Business of the Year:
• Georgina McAnally
Volunteers of the Year:
George and Ann Kidder
• Youth of the Year
— The recipients will be honored at tonight’s Cowboy Christmas event at the Boys & Girls Club, 1324 E. U.S. Highway 40.
The Boys & Girls Club of Craig has chosen its 2010 People of the Year.
Dana Duran, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, said the recognition is tradition.
“Each year, the Boys & Girls Club selects an outstanding Man and/or Woman of the year, Volunteers of the Year, and Business of the Year,” Duran said. “And, the kids compete for Youth of the Year.”
This year’s honorees are: Tom and Helen Knez, Man and Woman of the Year; Wyman Museum, Business of the Year; George and Ann Kidder, Georgina McAnally Volunteers of the Year; and Kadi Scott, Youth of the Year.
At 7 p.m. tonight, the winners will be recognized during Cowboy Christmas, an annual fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club.
Man, Woman of the Year: Tom, Helen Knez
Duran said this year’s winners for Man and Woman of the Year embody philanthropy.
“They said they saw a need in the community and wanted to be part of the solution,” Duran said. “That is action. That is service. That is being part of something bigger than themselves.”
Ten years ago, Tom Knez began the Yahoo Golf Tournament in the face of tragedy.
“My brother got killed in a tractor accident,” Tom said.
To celebrate his brother’s memory, Tom rounded up 12 of his friends.
“Let’s just go out and play (golf) and have a few drinks,” Tom recalled of the tournament’s genesis. “That’s kind of what started it.”
Tom estimated the first tournament raised $2,000 to $3,000, which he donated to the Boys & Girls Club.
Today, the tournament raises around $17,000 every year for different organizations.
Tom said his wife, Helen, was instrumental in growing the event beyond its humble first year.
“She did all the computer and paperwork. It wouldn’t have been possible without her,” Tom said of Helen.
Twelve people participated in the first year, but after Helen’s involvement, the event grew to 80 participants in its second year.
For the event’s third year, Tom said Danny and Stacy Severson joined the organization.
“Danny Severson came to me,” Tom recalled. “His dad had been killed in a pickup accident, and he says, ‘Can I get involved in the tournament?’ And I said, ‘You bet.’”
Since then, the event has swelled to capacity, Tom said.
“It’s been full ever since,” Tom said. “We shut it off at 120 (players).”
Helen said the Yahoo Golf Tournament took off when Tom decided to add the ball drop to the event.
“I cringe when he says, ‘I’ve got an idea,’” Helen said. “But, that was a good idea.”
The ball drop allows non-golfers to participate by buying raffle tickets for prizes in the ball drop.
Tom estimates the annual tournament has raised more than $100,000 for children’s organizations in Moffat County, including the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition, the junior golf program at Moffat County High School and Horizons Specialized Services.
Tom said his late brother would be honored if he knew what his memory has done for the community.
“I think he’d be pretty proud of helping the kids,” Tom said.
Business of the Year: Wyman Museum
Duran said the children at the Boys & Girls Club have benefited directly from this year’s Business of the Year.
“The Wyman Museum is our favorite fieldtrip spot,” she said. “I feel really lucky to have access to the museum and be able to show the kids a little more about life than their everyday world.”
Museum owner Lou Wyman said the popularity of the museum among school children was unexpected.
“This isn’t exactly as I envisioned when I started,” Wyman said. “I thought it would be just a museum.”
Nonetheless, Wyman estimated 1,000 children from Craig, Maybell, Meeker, Baggs, Wyo. and elsewhere visit his museum every year.
“We see all the classes from kindergarten at least up to sixth or seventh grade,” he said.
The appeal among children is simple, Wyman said.
“Where else can you go with kids to learn about living history, and watch a blacksmith make something, or go for a ride in a 1918 REO, or a horse-drawn wagon?” he said.
Wyman said the credit is due to office manager Nicky Boulger.
“She is more responsible for this being a successful business than me,” Wyman said of Boulger. “She has been the sparkplug of the thing.”
Boulger said this year’s recognition from the Boys & Girls Club is touching.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” she said. “It’s neat that the community appreciates all we do. That’s pretty special.”
Georgina McAnally Volunteers of the Year: George and Ann Kidder
Duran said the 2010 picks for the Georgina McAnally Volunteers of the Year do more than help funnel dollars into charitable organizations.
“Each year (the Kidders) help us believe,” she said.
For nearly 15 years, the Craig community has known George and Ann Kidder as Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
George said his role as Santa began in Florida in the early 1990s.
“It started out as a lark down there,” he said.
George’s mother, who was part of a civic group in Goldenrod, Fla., asked him to play Santa and hand out candy canes.
Back then, George’s beard was brown, so he wore a white costume beard over his real one.
Over the years, the beard gradually turned from brown, to salt-and-pepper, to white.
His transformation into the role of Santa grew in step.
“I figured if I was going to be old and gray and fat, I was going to have fun,” he said.
Not long after moving from Florida to Craig in 1994, the Kidders began earning a reputation as uncanny impersonators of the North Pole’s most fam-
People began asking them to attend social events in costume. When offered money for the service, George refused.
“I told them, ‘I won’t charge anything, but I want you to make a donation to either Christmas for Kids, Christmas for Seniors, (Advocates-Crisis Support Services) or the Food Bank, (and) make (the donation) in your name and Santa’s name.’” he said.
In addition to playing Mr. and Mrs. Claus, the Kidders are active in several organizations, including Young Life and the Special Olympics.
“We do a lot of different things throughout the whole year,” Ann said.
Ann also said their roles as the Clauses gain them year-round recognition from children in the community.
Despite the lack of anonymity, Ann said she wouldn’t change a thing.
“We’re nuts, I know,” she joked.
Youth of the Year: Kadi Scott
Duran said the 2010 Youth of the Year is wise beyond her years.
“She is a dynamic, engaging, energetic, enthusiastic kid,” Duran said. “She’s just a really neat person that wants to help the kids in our community.”
Kadi Scott, a junior at Moffat County High School, has served as a junior staff member at the Boys & Girls Club since September 2008, Duran said.
“Junior staff are high school kids that work for us,” she said. “They get to try on leadership positions and work, but we also help them with career planning, resume building, job skills, work ethic and some of those pieces.”
Scott said she teaches children computer skills.
“We have many different programs here,” Scott said. “I run game tech and club tech, which are two technology programs where we teach kids computer skills.”
Programming computer games is one of those skills, she said.
“Right now, they’re making short videos,” Scott said of her students. “But, we plan to get them to the point where they can make a Pac-Man-type game.”
Scott said her work at the Boys & Girls Club has helped her find her calling. She plans to become an elementary school teacher specializing in students with special needs.
“I love kids. I’ve always loved kids,” Scott said. “The Boys & Girls Club is a great place to make a difference in a child’s life.”