Helping others, overcoming obstacles, and gaining self-confidence were among the themes shared by Youth of the Year finalists at the Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills’ 2022 Virtual Great Futures Celebration. Kanaiya Terry, Ja’Torian Medley, and Tamia McKinnon all had to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the Youth of the Year honor, including active involvement in their Clubs, academic success, and community service. “The judges told us this was one of the hardest decisions they’ve ever had to make, and now we know why,” Ke’Ziah Simpson stated when announcing Tamia McKinnon as the 2022 Youth of the Year. Tamia said, “The Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills has molded me for success and given me the confidence to adapt to changes and new surroundings.” McKinnon wants to attend an HBCU and eventually receive a Doctorate in Pediatrics following her graduation from Pinecrest High School.

Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills CEO Fallon Brewington commented, “Youth of the Year is my favorite event every year.  It is the premier leadership program of Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills. We are able to watch how our teens, many of whom have literally grown up in the Club, have developed into leaders that we know will take the world by storm as adults and crush every dream and goal they have for themselves. There is no doubt about that after you hear them delivering their powerful speeches. Their families as well as their BGCS family are so proud!”. 

Other awards were handed out as well, honoring serve to the Club and its Club members. Local realtor Carolyn Hallett was awarded Volunteer of the Year, Larry Smith was named Staff Member of the Year, Lea Chandler was named New Board Member of the Year, and Chris Grimm was named Board Member of the Year!

Another delicious meal was provided by Elliotts on Linden for attendees to pick up and enjoy during the livestream of the event. The Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills would like to thank Chef Mark Elliott, Elise Zwatteri, and the entire team at Elliotts on Linden and Elliotts Catering Co. for their incredible, continued support of the organization. The 2022 Great Futures Celebration was made possible through generous sponsorship provided by Duke Energy, Sandhills Pediatrics, McNeill Oil & Propane, A Southern Land Title Agency, ATEX Technologies, Inc., Veteran’s Guardian. Special thanks to Lisa’s Lovable Learning Day Care Center and Jackson Real Estate Ventures as well.

If you missed the celebration, you can watch the recording via the Club’s website:

Now in its 75th year, the Youth of the Year program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures. Tamia will go on to contend for the North Carolina Youth of the Year title and a $2,500 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America. If she wins at the state level, Tamia will go on to the regionals for a chance to receive an additional $20,000 college scholarship.  Six finalists will advance to the National Youth of the Year event in Los Angeles in September 2022 to vie for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $50,000 and a brand-new Toyota Corolla. 

The Youth of the Year program is supported by Toyota and Mondelēz International. As the Signature Sponsor of Youth of the Year, Toyota is committed to partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to ensure local Clubs provide life-enhancing opportunities for kids and teens to explore, develop and apply the essential skills they need to be successful in life and work. As the Lead Sponsor of Youth of the Year, Mondelēz International, will engage with local Clubs year-round to help foster a new generation of leaders prepared to live in and lead a diverse global economy. Youth of the Year representatives are the workforce leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers of tomorrow.  

For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit 

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