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Football Standout Inspires Boys Town Youth

Charles Tillman

​​Charles Tillman, Carolina Panthers cornerback and decorated philanthropist, brought a message of encouragement and hope to Boys Town youth at the annual Boys Town Booster Banquet, held May 3.

"It is mental toughness that makes you stand out," said Tillman to the more than 1,400 attendees. "When I was 6 years old, I decided I wanted to be a professional football player. I worked hard for it and it took a long time, but I continued to remind myself that this is what I wanted. It was all I thought about and you know what? I made it because I believed in me."

His message resonated with Boys Town youth, who often come from difficult backgrounds. 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 Cordell, the 2016 Competing with Character Boys Town Male award winner, told the audience Tuesday night, "I never played sports before because my family was so mobile. When I came to Boys Town and had stability, I got to go out for football, for basketball, for track. Now, I have a team. I went from someone who could go to college to someone who will."

The annual Booster Banquet honors Boys Town student-athletes for their outstanding accomplishments throughout the season. Rodney and Bill were named Co-Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year and Mikahla was name Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year, respectively, for their tremendous commitment to Boys Town athletics. Cordell and Jenny received the male and female Competing with Character awards.

Six 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. John Franklin (Frank) Curry (1955), Richard J. Girouard (1956), Richard (Ricardo) Badillo (1956) and Gerald T. Schulte (1960) were inducted posthumously while Patrick L. Fitzgerald (1956) and Kenneth R. Gilchrist (1965) were honored at the event.

The Boys Town Boosters were formed more than 40 years ago to ensure that any child who is at Boys Town has the opportunity to play sports. 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.

The 2017 Boys Town Booster Banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2. If you are interested in learning more about the Boosters or would like to join, please email Herb Hames at