SOUTHINGTON - Costumed â€śStar Warsâ€ť characters greeted visitors to the YMCA Wednesday as the recipients of their Community Awards, set to be honored Feb. 6 at the Aqua Turf, were announced.
The iconic music of John Williams was the first thing visitors heard as they stepped through the door to the YMCA. They were then greeted by Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Obi Wan Kenobi and Princess Leia as YMCA leadership announced the now obvious theme of their 89th Annual Meeting: â€śMay The Y Be With You,â€ť scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the banquet facility at 556 Mulberry St.
Dan Daigle, president of the YMCAâ€™s Board of Directors, and John Myers, YMCA executive director, then announced those that they would be honoring at the meeting.
â€śThese people are all spokes of our community wheel and all of them have made a huge impact,â€ť said Daigle.
Myers, after donning a â€śStar Warsâ€ť shirt, said that Southington High School seniors Naomi Cipriano and Julia Brilla would be receiving the Youth Leadership award.
â€śYouâ€™ll all be very impressed when we talk about their resumes,â€ť said Myers. â€śBetween sports, school activities, community activities and I imagine social activities I hope they find some time to sleep. No matter what communities they ultimately end up in, which I hope is Southington, I know it will be enriched for having them.â€ť
The Youth Development Award will be presented to the Southington Cyberknights robotics team.
â€śThis is a high school varsity sport which sees students partner with local professionals to design and build robots that they then compete with nationally,â€ť said Myers. â€śItâ€™s super exciting and honestly blows football away. Last year they won the state championships and were recognized at the worldwide competition at St. Louis. What they do is just amazing and it gives kids the experience of a lifetime.â€ť
The Healthy Living Award will be given to the Southington Chamber Health and Wellness Committee.
â€śFifty percent of employees have high cholesterol and arenâ€™t getting enough exercise,â€ť said Myers. â€śTwenty-six percent are overweight and 24 percent have high blood pressure. The Chamber is working to reverse those numbers. They will be posting videos with tips for staying healthy and active every Wednesday on our Facebook page and they will also be starting a weekly walking initiative.â€ť
The Social Responsibility Award will be given to the DePaolo Family Foundation.
â€śThis foundation is a shining example of giving back and taking care of others,â€ť said Myers. â€śYour parents would be so proud in knowing that you are carrying on their legacy.â€ť
Finally, Myers announced that the YMCA will be honoring Mike DeFeo as their Person of the Year.
â€śThe Person of the Year award is given to those who make Southington a better place to live through their actions,â€ť said Myers. â€śMike has had a positive impact upon thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of kids though our youth sports programs. He is also involved in Parks & Recreation, was involved in the turf project at the high school, and recently helped to save middle school sports. He has an incredible way of reaching out to coaches, administrators, program coordinators and most importantly the kids.â€ť
DeFeo said he was â€śhonored and humbledâ€ť to receive the award.
â€śIâ€™m mostly a behind the scenes guy,â€ť he said. â€śI just like to give kids the opportunity to experience things I did as a child. As citizens, it is our obligation to give back to the community.â€ť
The cost to register for the YMCAâ€™s Annual Meeting is $50. Guests must RSVP by Feb. 1. The eventâ€™s premium sponsor is Hartford HealthCare.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.