Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale recently named Carly Mertz its 2020 Youth of the Year at its annual Celebrate Youth Gala.
Miss. Mertz, 17, will go on to compete at the state level on March 30, with the potential to progress to regional and national competitions, according to a press release.
A member of the BGCS Thunderbirds Branch for 12 years, she is the recipient of a $5,000 scholarship for college, to help with her goal of becoming an event planner for a non-profit.
During the gala, presented by Tiffany & Bosco and Meritage Homes, she shared her story with more than 600 guests in attendance.
Crediting her club mentors and programs in helping her overcome anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, the winner spoke about finding confidence, positive body image, and acceptance at the club, the release said.
“Our gala guests are always in awe of our teen leaders, and this year our eight finalists did not disappoint,” said BGCS President/CEO Robyn Julien, in a prepared statement.
“On full display at the Celebrate Youth Gala was the true impact of the clubs—confident, compassionate and resilient young leaders on their individual paths to great futures.”
Miss. Mertz was chosen amongst the following finalists:
Youth of the Year is a national Boys & Girls Clubs of America program promoting leadership, exceptional academic performance and community service.
The competition began in September with 19 BGCS teens vying for the clubs’ highest honor and a total of $12,000 in scholarships provided by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Foundation.
Broadband Dynamics and Gabbie and Bob Rife provided an additional $2,000 for each finalist, according to the release.
Leading up to the final competition, candidates wrote multiple essays, participated in panel interviews with community leaders, practiced their presentations of club experiences, including personal growth and transformation, which they shared at the Celebrate Youth Gala.
Proceeds generated from sponsorships, ticket and table sales, auction items and paddle-raiser purchases go directly to fund club programming.