Last September, I was honored to be named Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. I feel privileged to serve as the voice for the more than 4 million young people served at Clubs every year. My journey has been the experience of a lifetime. I never would have imagined all the blessings that have come to me. Like last week, for instance.
At the Radio Disney Music Awards in Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles, I was presented the Heroes For Change Award for my work with BGCA. It was a jam-packed adventure of a day.
Disney gave me backstage passes, so I was able to see some of my favorite artists up-close. I even had access to the VIP after-party. And my time on the red carpet felt like a dream. I came right after Fifth Harmony and before Blake Michael. I felt like a star with photographers and media being so interested in my involvement.
But my favorite part (besides walking the red carpet!) was meeting Club alum Jennifer Lopez, who received the Hero Award for her work with BGCA. I've always looked up to J-Lo as a role model for how I might inspire others. It was incredible to be honored in the same category as her.
From left: fellow award winner Sloan Peterson; Exec. Dir. David Ambroz, Corp. Citizenship & Social Responsibility, Disney-ABC TV Group; Maryah; J-Lo; and Radio Disney V.P. Programming and G.M. Phil Guerini during check presentation.I was nervous but super-excited to meet J-Lo. When she walked into the room, my eyes got so big! To my surprise, Radio Disney donated a check for $10,000 to BGCA on behalf of me and Jennifer. I felt so special and proud to stand beside her. It was humbling to know we share the same passion to help kids and spark great futures.
Maryah Sullivan is the 2014-15 National Youth of the Year.
My thanks to Disney and Radio Disney for providing me with this amazing opportunity and encouraging me to lead, succeed and inspire. I will take what I've learned as National Youth of the Year and continue to spread the word to young people to give back to their community, make a difference and inspire others to make positive change.