The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale has selected Scottsdale resident and Pinnacle High School senior Alyssa Coughenour as the 2012 Youth of the Year. She was selected from nine finalists, one representing each branch in the nonprofit organization.
Coughenour was honored at the Youth of the Year Celebrate Youth Gala & Auction at Talking Stick Resort, which was attended by more than 600 members of the community and raised more than $235,000 for Scottsdale Clubs.
The following is an excerpt from her award-winning speech, where she reflected on her experiences as a Club member:
“My facial muscles tense, my forehead wrinkled, I fixated my eyes on the inside of my eyelids. Moments earlier, they had been forced shut by an intruding red blindfold and the hands of someone whom I trusted. She twisted the cloth behind my head to ensure my blindness.
It was two years ago at the PROUD Lock In, a Boys and Girls Club event, and it was the single experience that embodies what I’ve learned about respect.
At a young age, I learned how to respect others. However, it was the PROUD lock-in that taught me why respect was so important.
When I was blinded at the event, it only took me a few minutes to realize how dependent I was on other people. Being blind opened my eyes to circumstances other people have to live with, and I experienced first-hand what it would be like if I was not as fortunate as I am.
To this day, you’ll find the framed PRIDE Award, an award I received at the PROUD Lock-in, on top of the antique rollover desk in my room. It reminds me of the most important lesson I’ve learned in the past 18 years: respect. People who respect others’ unique differences are proud of themselves for appreciating everyone regardless of their color, disabilities or quirks. Thus, pride lies in respect, and respect, thanks to the Thunderbirds Branch, is something I have begun to fully comprehend.”
As the 2012 Youth of the Year from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, Coughenour received a $5,000 scholarship from General Dynamics C4 Systems and $1,000 gift card courtesy of American Express. She hopes to attend Duke University and pursue a career in public relations.
Finalists from the other branches of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale were: Colleen Campbell, Mary Ellen & Robert McKee Branch; Andy Dao, Rose Lane Branch; Jackson Fogerty, Virginia G. Piper Branch; Doniar Mason, Lehi Branch; Claudia Mendoza, Harley & Ruth Barker Branch; Vivian Nguyen, Vestar Branch; Kristofferson Walker, Hualapai Branch in Peach Springs; and Lane Yazzie, Red Mountain Branch.
Each member received $1,000 scholarship from General Dynamics C4 and a $500 American Express gift card.