Lawrence's Trei Dudley named National Youth of the Year

Trei Dudley, a Free State High School graduate, has been named the 2012-2013 Southwest Region Youth of the Year. Dudley was with club members at Pinckney School Friday, June 8, 2012, where she now works as a junior staffer.

Trei Dudley, a Free State High School graduate, has been named the 2012-2013 Southwest Region Youth of the Year. Dudley was with club members at Pinckney School Friday, June 8, 2012, where she now works as a junior staffer. by Mike Yoder

Trei Dudley, 18, of Lawrence, was named National Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of America today.

She was recognized during a Congressional breakfast this morning in Washington and received the award from actor Denzel Washington. She also met Olympian Michael Phelps, singer Ashanti and President Barack Obama. Along with her title, she received $61,000 in scholarships and a new car.

“Hands down, this is the single happiest moment of my life,” Dudley said in a news release. “Like the other Youth of the Year finalists, my story could have turned out very different without the support, mentorship and safety of my Boys and Girls Club. I will forever treasure this experience and commit to representing club members and the nation’s youth well.”

The award celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. There are 4,000 Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide that serve 4 million children and teens. The Lawrence club serves more than 1,200 youths with after-school and summer programming.

Dudley has been involved with Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence since she was in kindergarten.

She said her mother, Cathy Brittain, worked hard to raise her and her three siblings on her own, and there were times when life wasn’t easy. Dudley said the staff at Boys and Girls Club helped pull her through those times and she considered them a second family.

“They took me under their wing, and I knew that I could always count on them. They were a big support system,” she said.

Brittain said the Boys and Girls Club provided a place where her daughter could just be a kid and not have to worry about the difficulties at home. Brittain said she worked two jobs to help make ends meet, and Dudley, the second-oldest child, helped take care of household chores and her siblings.

“She could play hopscotch and jump rope and not worry about the stresses of home or the fact that there might not be some great times,” Brittain said. “At the Boys and Girls Club, she could be whoever she wanted to be.”

When Dudley was in junior high school, she was asked to help mentor some elementary school girls, and that became a turning point for Dudley.

“It just got in her blood and that’s what she wanted to do is just be an inspiration to others, the way others had been an inspiration to her,” Brittain said. “She wanted to make a difference in a child’s life, even if it was just one.”

Erika Zimmerman, director of development for the Lawrence club, described Dudley as a caring individual who took time during a pep rally last week at Pinckney School to visit with parents who were having difficulties with their children.

“It speaks to her character, just how much she loves working with youth and how good she is at it,” Zimmerman said. “Trei has such a big heart.”

Dudley is the first Kansas resident to win the national award. She graduated from Free State High School in May and is a freshman at the University of Arkansas, where she is studying business.

The Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence plans to have a reception for her at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at its East Heights location, 1430 Haskell Ave. The club also plans to send a busload of people to the Kansas City airport to greet her before the reception. Her flight is scheduled to arrive at noon.

Tagged: National Youth of the Year, Boys and Girls Club of America

Comments

lawrencelifer59 2 years ago

What an accomplishment, Trei!!! Congrats from the Wagner family.

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Shelly Welcher 2 years ago

A wonderful accomplishment for a much deserving young woman! You ROCK!!!

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xyz 2 years ago

Congratz, Trei!!! I just saw your interview on MSNBC and you were very impressive--poised, articulate and radiating joy. You and Denzel looked like you were old friends! Thanks for making Lawrence proud!

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Leslie Swearingen 2 years ago

This is a great story and it really shows just how important an support network can be. Poor mothers can get worn down and exhausted and frustrated at events that are beyond their control. This is true of all mothers, but those without role modals or those who live in less than ideal circumstances need some place where their children can go and be safe and learn while Mom takes a breath. Trei, you are a prize for sure. What wonderful rewards for all the hard work you put in.

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irvan moore 2 years ago

great kid. great program

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Brandi Simpson-Glover 2 years ago

that is so amazing! she got to meet some great people and earned herself some great gifts-wonderful accomplishment

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kef104 2 years ago

We are new to utilizing Boys and Girls club and could not be happier with their staff. Lawrence has a whole bunch of special people in it. Trei reflects the best of Lawrence and helps maintain our high standards for those looking up to her and her accomplishments. Congratulations Trei.

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mommydaycare 2 years ago

Congrats to this beautiful young woman, this is a true accomplishment!!! But please, its very sad that so many single moms, claim to do everything on their own!!!! What about the dads, that work two jobs and help these moms. Or what about her mom that liked to run around every club in Lawrence and can be seen in plenty of pictures at the bars, why is that not mentioned?. Please the dads need more attention as well!!!! It is very sad!!!!!! Plenty of dads in this town do not get recognized while the moms are living off of every public assistance program available to them!!!!!

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SoundMind 2 years ago

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mommydaycare 2 years ago

Know, its not sad.....I do know of the mother, and yes just get on facebook and you will see and whole different side. Again, a single mom is someone who gets no help at all and raises children by herself. Too many moms in this town are living off of public assistance and not giving the dads any credit, very sad!!!

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jayhawks_1120 2 years ago

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SoundMind 2 years ago

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KeepItReal1 2 years ago

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Marilyn Hull 2 years ago

This speaks volumes about Trei and our Boys and Girls Club. Congrats to every staff member, past and present, who worked with Trei and hundreds of other kids. Well done.

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