Steamboat senior receives Youth of the Year award from Boys & Girls Club |

Steamboat senior receives Youth of the Year award from Boys & Girls Club

Zoe Welch, 17, accepts a $4,000 check after winning the Youth of the Year award from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado. She is a senior at Steamboat Springs High School. (Alison Berg / Steamboat Pilot & Today)

Zoe Welch never imagined she’d be standing in front of peers and counselors, who helped her navigate life for the past decade, accepting a $4,000 scholarship.

But Thursday evening, Welch did just that as a panel of judges named her Youth of the Year, which is awarded annually to one Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Colorado member.

Welch joined the club at age 6, right after she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and her mother with melanoma skin cancer.

“They were always there to support me and take care of me,” Welch said of the club. “The environment is supportive, and they care about you, and they want to help you grow and become a better person.”

Welch, a Steamboat Springs High School senior, plans to attend Biola University in California. She hasn’t chosen a major yet, but she knows she wants to help people whatever way she can.

“I’m just not sure how that translates yet, but I want to make a difference for people,” Welch said.

Each year, six members representing the clubs in Craig and Steamboat are chosen as nominees for the Youth of the Year award, which Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Dana Duran describes as “the highest honor a club member can receive.” Each nominee gives a speech about their experience in the club and their future plans, and a panel of judges chooses one winner. The winner receives a $4,000 scholarship, and the other five nominees receive $2,500 scholarships.

“The Boys & Girls Club changes lives,” said Kelly Landers, development director for the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs. “These young people are incredible in their stories and how strong they are, and we’re so proud of the incredible work that’s happening in our club each day.”

Duran said the success of each nominee is a result of their experiences learning from each other while participating in club programs.

“Our Youth of the Year stories of triumph and personal success don’t happen in a vacuum,” Duran said. “Each candidate has a supportive circle of family, friends, teachers and community members.”

Other Youth of the Year nominees included: Ashley Duran, Moffat County High School junior; Julia Chavez, Moffat County High School senior; Zuzu Gibbs, Steamboat Springs High School senior; Daisy Wilson, Steamboat Springs High School senior; and Mallory Thomas, Steamboat Springs High School senior.

Welch will now compete for the regional Youth of the Year award against winners from the southwest region of the Boys & Girls Club, which includes states from Montana to Texas.

“The award just shows how the club has worked for them and helped them achieve their goals and become the bright, young, successful person they are,” Duran said. “Zoe (Welch) is a phenomenal young woman, and the club was really there for her creating the place she could go to be a kid.”

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