Fundraiser honors Colorado’s 2019 Youth of the Year Winner

The Annual ‘Casino Night’ fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Chaffee County drew nearly 150 individuals to the Salida SteamPlant.

“I don’t believe there’s another county in Colorado that cares more for youth,” said BGCCC director, Brian Beaulieu. “We packed the SteamPlant ballroom.”

The event raised nearly $70,000 through a live auction, a small silent auction, and ‘Fund-a-need’.

“We set a new record with 72 sponsorships,” said Beaulieu. “It was our third largest fundraising event in our history.”

The funds raised from events like ‘Casino Night’ go to a variety of programs within BGCCC.

“Most of the funds raised will go into priority focus programs for academic success, healthy lifestyles and leadership,” explained Beaulieu. “Specifically, we’ll be enhancing our Youth of the Year leadership program, our STEM classes and our art programs thanks to the support we garnered at Casino Night.”

BGCCC also provides over $50,000 in financial aid every year to families who need it most.

Colorado’s Youth of the Year winner, Athena Kintgen. Courtesy photo. Kintgen will be competing at the national level in June.

For many, including Beaulieu, the evening’s highlight was hearing a speech from Salida’s own and Colorado’s Youth of the Year winner, Athena Kintgen.

Kintgen’s speech was the same one she gave at the state competition in Denver.

Diagnosed with a hearing impairment in elementary school, Kintgen has suffered from hearing loss for much of her life. Her adept sign-language skills have enabled her to connect with her peers in unique and special ways.

“She’s the best example of how Boys & Girls Clubs can change the trajectory of kids’ lives,” expressed Beaulieu. “But honestly, Athena is an incredible young woman. Her experiences through Boys & Girls Club are just taking her to another level.”

BGCCC served 821 kids last year. In 2019-2020, CCBGC hopes to transcend that number. The organization is critically important in a county where the Salida School District has a four-day week an working parents need help with safe and educational child care options.

“We hope to serve over 850 kids in 2019 and 2020,” said Beaulieu. “The support from our community for our kids and programs is incredible.  The boost our kids get from this event will impact and improve lives for years to come.”