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Booster Banquet Speaker Sheds Painful Past to Inspire Change

Dominique Dawes

Dominique Dawes, Olympic gymnast gold medalist, brought a message of encouragement and hope to Boys Town youth at the 50th annual Boys Town Booster Banquet, held May 2.

"When you go through a painful moment, it's for a good purpose," said Dawes to the over 1,400 attendees while sharing her story of growing up in an abusive household.  "But it's up to you to find that purpose. You have to make the choice to overcome it. You have to make the choice to do better."

Her 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 Laura, the 2017 Competing with Character Boys Town Female award winner, told the audience Tuesday night, "My parents couldn't be there for me, mentally or physically, so I just gave up. I quit doing things I enjoyed and was depressed, but at Boys Town, you can't quit - they won't let you. They pushed me and I've grown into a person I'm proud of. I've found my place at Boys Town."
The annual Booster Banquet honors Boys Town student-athletes for their outstanding accomplishments throughout the season. Deshawn was named Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year and Justina was named Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year, respectively, for their tremendous commitment to Boys Town athletics. Laura and Dominick 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 Brogan (departed 1945), John W. Chesire (1962), William H. (Bill) Eichelberger (1961) and Bryon E. McCane (1964) were inducted posthumously while Dr. Cornelius Arnold, MD (1961) and Hubert Dean Ward (1950) were honored at the event.

The Boys Town Boosters were formed more than 50 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 2018 Boys Town Booster Banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, May 1. If you are interested in learning more about the Boosters or would like to join, please email Herb Hames at