Olympic Medalist Connects with Youth
at 2013 Booster Banquet
Jackie Joyner-Kersee, one of the most decorated female athletes of the 20th century, brought a message of encouragement and hope to Boys Town youth at the annual Boys Town Booster Banquet, held May 7. About 1,500 attended the event at the Embassy Suites Omaha-La Vista Conference Center.
Jackie grew up in East St. Louis, MO, a tough neighborhood where it was more likely for a young woman to be pregnant at age 14 then to finish high school. But because of her strong family support and her inner drive to be the best, Jackie overcame the stereotype to become a standout athlete at UCLA and a repeating Olympic champion.
"I had people that believed in me, who taught me to stay on the straight road, the road towards success," said Jackie. "You're faced with challenges right now and if you go right, there's destruction and if you go left, there's chaos. Just stay straight, keep doing what you're doing, and you'll make it. How you deal with these challenges defines who you are."
Her message resonated with Boys Town youth, who too often come from difficult backgrounds and have lacked support before coming to Boys Town. Once here, Boys Town professionals work with these boys and girls to rebuild their trust and provide an opportunity for them to learn the life lessons many take for granted. Team sports are an integral part of this care.
For many youth, Boys Town athletics is their first opportunity to participate in any kind of organized sport. Boys Town coaches focus on the team sport experience building character, not the final score. As Tim Thompson, a 2010 Boys Town graduate and captain of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) track team, told the audience Tuesday night, "Without Boys Town, I wouldn't be here. The life lessons I learned have stayed with me and have helped me be successful. I never thought I would graduate high school and here I am, a junior at UNL on an athletic scholarship."
The annual Booster Banquet honors Boys Town student-athletes for their outstanding accomplishments throughout the season. Youths David and Jordan were named the Outstanding Male and Female Athletes of the Year, respectively, for their tremendous commitment to Boys Town athletics. Pal and Anne received the Competing with Character awards.
Eight Boys Town alumni also were recognized for their athletic achievements during their time at Boys Town with their induction into the Boys Town Sports Hall of Fame. Harold Popp (1947), Joseph Grabowski (1948), Jim Tucker (1950) and Manny Fierro (1961) were inducted posthumously while Richard Thomas (1945), Ernest Keahey (1953), Bill Grill (1954) and Curtis Devers (1960) were honored at the event.
Keep updated on next year's Booster Banquet!
The Boys Town Boosters were formed more than 40 years ago to ensure that any child who wants to play sports has the opportunity to do so. Every year, the Booster Banquet brings Boys Town and the Omaha community together to recognize Boys Town's student-athletes and raise funds for sports equipment, uniforms and other necessities. This support of Boys Town athletics guarantees youth have an outlet where they can have fun and learn valuable life lessons.
If you are interested in learning more about the Boosters or would like to join, please email Herb Hames at firstname.lastname@example.org.