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South High junior named Boys & Girls Club's top youth

April 12, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Desmond Ingram, right, has his picture taken Thursday with Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson. Wilson spoke at the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County's 22nd annual Steak & Burger Dinner at Hager Hall in Hagerstown, where Ingram was recognized as the club's 2012 Youth of the Year.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Desmond Ingram is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, but he seemed fine with sharing the Hager Hall stage with a Washington Redskins player.

The 16-year-old South High School junior was named 2012 Youth of the Year before a record-setting crowd Thursday night at the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County’s 22nd annual Steak & Burger Dinner.

“It feels really good,” Desmond said. “I’m pretty nervous to give my speech, but it feels really nice.”

Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson, who credits the Boys & Girls Club in his hometown of Upper Marlboro, Md., for getting him started in organized sports, served as the evening’s keynote speaker.

It was the largest turnout ever for the annual event, drawing an estimated 440 people, and raising more than $20,000 for the local Boys & Girls Club, organizer Buck Browning said.

Tickets for the $50-per-person event included dinner, entertainment by club members and a silent auction.

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“Tonight is one of the greatest nights for the Boys & Girls Club,” Browning said. “This is a night we look forward to all year long.”

The Youth of the Year award is the highest honor achievable through the club, Browning said.

The winner also receives a $1,000 scholarship through the A Step 2 Success Foundation, he said.

The son of Jane and John Ingram of Hagerstown, Desmond has been a club member for “as long as I can remember,” and he embodies the types of kids they hope to mentor through their programs, Browning said.

Nominees for the award collect essays — from people they know, but also a few they write — that paint a picture of their character, he said.

“(Desmond) had a quote that he wrote in one of his essays that said, ‘I’m hungry for success,’” Browning said.

“We’ve heard for years that nothing great can be achieved without enthusiasm. So whenever you hear a 16-, 17-year-old say, I’m hungry for success, and I know what I need to do, and what I want to do, and how hard I’m going to work — that’s pretty impressive.”

Wilson, a former University of Maryland standout and five-year NFL veteran entering his second season with the Redskins, spent time signing autographs and talking with kids at the start of the event.

Wilson said he was a Boys & Girls Club member during his teenage years, playing football and running track. It helped him stay out of trouble while being active in his community and discovering his passion for football.

“I loved it,” Wilson said. “I met my four best friends that were all at my wedding the first year I played (in the NFL), and it was a great experience. I still am in communication with my track coach and football coach.”

Desmond, a lacrosse player at South High, said the club is like a “sanctuary to me, a second home, a place that I can always feel safe.

“Teens should be a part of the Boys & Girls Club because it’s just a good atmosphere to be around,” he said. “You’re always around adults that are good role models, always good influences, and it’s just a good time.”

Browning wished to thank the event sponsors, which included M&T Bank, Hoffman Automotive, Antietam Cable, United Bank, Citi, D.M. Bowman Foundation, Staples, Susquehanna Bank, Tri-State Printing and The Valley Mall.

“It’s not about what you take,” he said. “It’s about what you give.”

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