Boys and Girls Club hosts virtual Cowboy Christmas, Youth of the Year speeches
The Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Colorado made history Saturday night. In a trying year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which wiped out the Boys and Girls Club’s annual Cowboy Christmas fundraiser, the popular youth club adjusted and held its first-ever virtual Cowboy Christmas and Youth of the Year speeches over Facebook Live.
The virtual event, co-hosted by Executive Director Dana Duran and Development Director Kelly Landers, lasted roughly 30 minutes and featured a musical performance to open the show, before then transition to two Youth of the Year speeches from this year’s Craig club nominees in Ashley Duran, a junior at Moffat County High School, and Julia Chavez, a senior at MCHS.
The Youth of the Year award honors teenage staff members of the club, collectively called “red shirts,” who have worked to build up younger club members.
This year’s nominees from Craig will each participate in the cross-club competition against Steamboat Springs’ representatives in January. Nominees all give a speech detailing how the club has positively affected their lives and their future.
Ashley Duran, who has been going to the Boys and Girls club since she was 6 years old, spoke first, detailing how the club helped her work through the loss of her father in 2019.
“When I lost my father in May of 2019, I had to leave school and work for a week,” Ashley Duran said. “I was worried about missing school and missing work at the club…My mom was my greatest support through all and means everything to me.
“The club is my happy place,” Ashley Duran added. “I came back because the club is my happy place because I’m able to put smiles on kids faces, make fun paintings, and get them out of their comfort zones to do better things and make new friends.”
Being able to impact children in her community through the club has set Duran on a career path that she has planned out well in advance.
Following graduation from MCHS in 2022, Ashley Duran plans on attending Colorado Mesa University to study education or child protective services.
“The club provides a safe place for kids and teens, just like I want to do when I graduate from high school to pursue education or child protection work at CMU,” Ashley Duran said. “I hope to be a leader and a mentor for the kids now and in the future.”
Chavez, who has also gone to the Boys and Girls Club since the age of 6, said that the club gave her a place to work through he feelings following an epilepsy diagnosis when she was 13.
“I knew at the age of 13 that I wanted to be staff member at the club,” Chavez said. “That year, I was diagnosed with epilepsy, so I couldn’t do things that I loved, like snowboarding, 4-wheeling, swimming…things of that nature. The Boys and Girls Club gave me a place I could still do things and distract myself of the way I was feeling that day, and the club made me feel safe and accepted.”
In her closing remarks, Chavez stated that her ultimate goal is to become a neurosurgeon, which will help her work with patients she’s passionate about, such as those dealing with epilepsy.
Being a member of the club and working as a volunteer staff member has helped set her up to pursue those goals following graduation, she said.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t come to the club 11 years ago,” Chavez said. “The club taught me how to be independent, overcome challenges, help others and be persistent in my work.”
Following the speeches from the two Craig Youth of the Year nominees, Dana Duran was emotional stating how proud and grateful she is to be a part of their lives.
“I’m so very proud,” Dana Duran said. “I’m proud of the young women you are, knowing the futures that are coming for you, and being a small part of your success. I’ve been at the club awhile. I remember them when they were 6 and when they were 13; I remember the good days and the challenging days in between.
“I knew there were great things headed for them, but to see them stand up in front of us and give those speeches just means so much to me to be part of that story,” Dana Duran added. “I don’t know about you all, but I think our future’s pretty bright with people like Ashley and Julia leading the way.”
Aside from the two speeches from the Youth of the Year nominees, Duran and Landers presented three ways community members can support the Boys and Girls Club this year in place of the annual Cowboy Christmas Fundraiser.
Through Sunday, Dec. 13, the club is hosting an online auction, featuring a one-of-a-kind Cowboy Christmas belt buckle, a spot in the Bridgestone Winter Driving School, a two-night stay in a 2-Bedroom Ranch Condominium at Mountain Resorts, and a 4-person golf pass to Rollingstone Ranch Golf Course in Steamboat Springs.
The club is also offering a Dine Around Craig package in the auction, featuring a $100 gift card to Gino’s, $25 to Carelli’s, $50 to Vallarta’s, and $50 to Wine Bar and Kathy’s Carmel Corn.
In addition to the auction, the club is offering three options to sponsor members. For $250, a community member can become a co-sponsor for a club member for one year. For $500, a community member can become a sponsor for a club member for one year. For $1,000, a community member can become a sponsor for a two club members for one year.
“You can make sure they have homework help, a caring adult role model, nightly meals, play some games, be physically active, and fill their buckets with what they need during these tough times,” Duran said.
Finally, community members can support the club this year by buying some basketballs, art supplies, bike tunes for the club’s fleet of bicycles, and backpacks for members full of supplies.
For more information on the virtual Cowboy Christmas and the online auction, please visit https://bgcnwc.org/cowboy/.
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