Boys & Girls Club celebrate Cowboy Christmas, honor Youth of the Year |

Boys & Girls Club celebrate Cowboy Christmas, honor Youth of the Year

Members of the community gather at the Boys & Girls Club's Cowboy Christmas event Saturday.
Eliza Noe / Craig Press

Over 100 community members gathered at the Boys & Girls Club in Craig Saturday for the Cowboy Christmas celebration to celebrate another year of the nonprofit’s goal of providing a safe and engaging environment for children in Craig and Moffat County.

In addition to the celebration, the night was a major fundraiser for the organization, with dozens of items going up for a silent auction and others being sold in a live auction for upwards of $2,000. During the event, Dana Duran, executive director of Boys & Girls Club of Craig, said that she was happy to bring everyone back together since the club could not have the event in person last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re so thankful to every single person for coming to this event and supporting the work that we do every day,” Duran said. “We’re thankful for the opportunity to have this event after a year and a half. We’re thankful to celebrate this meal together.”

In addition to fundraising, two of the club’s junior staff presented speeches as Youth of the Year finalists. Reina Steele — who has been going to the Boys & Girls Club since she was eight years old — and Ashley Duran, who was chosen as a finalist for the award last year. During their speeches, both Craig finalists detailed what the Boys & Girls Club has meant to them as they’ve grown up, and the two nominees will go against other nominees in northwest Colorado early next year for a scholarship from the organization.

During her speech, Ashley Duran spoke about the loss of her father and how the club helped her through processing that grief. She plans to attend Colorado Mesa University to study social work. She credited the club for support during some of the hardest times of her life.

“While going through all of it, I was going down a very bad path and not making good decisions,” she said. “Thanks to the club, I was able to overcome the stigma of being a bad kid and might have gone down the same path that my dad did.”

Steele, a senior at Moffat County High School, is the other nominee for the Youth of the Year Award. Steele spoke about her struggles with mental health as a result of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. She plans on attending Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, after she graduates from MCHS.

Reina Steele, right, speaks as a finalist for Youth of the Year at the Craig Boys & Girls Club Cowboy Christmas event Saturday.
Eliza Noe / Craig Press

“When we made our return to the club last July, I learned that my life is far more valuable than I’ve been treating it,” Steele said. “Sometimes, it’s perfectly normal to know that you’re not okay. The truth is, I’m not perfect, and I still have moments where I feel like my heart might beat out of my chest. But everyone at the Boys & Girls Club has played a role in my journey, whether they realize that or not.”

Dana Duran said that the two nominees this year were exceptional members of the Craig staff, and they will be great representatives of the Boys & Girls Club at the next level in Steamboat Springs.

“One of my favorite parts of Cowboy Christmas is Youth of the Year.” she said. “Each year, our junior staff members had the opportunity to compete for Youth of the Year. Youth of the Year is an outstanding member of this club that shows great citizenship, leadership, communication and an outstanding role model for the other members of the club.”

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