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Youth of the Year

Sixteen-year-old Kayleigh Luther has a desire to help Sequim. Luther's dedication to volunteering led her to being chosen the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula's Youth of the Year.

"It's a lot of emotions right now," Luther said about the nomination.

The Teen Club at the Carroll C. Kendall Sequim branch has played an important role in Luther's life. Following a tough upbringing after her father left when she was 3 and briefly living in two foster homes, she's found stability in volunteering and school.

"She's done every fundraiser the teens have put on. She's not only there, but she's running things most of the time," said Kristal Vanselus, Teen Club director at the Sequim club.

"I like doing it. It's my way to give back," Luther said.

Luther also comes to the club almost every night and does her homework.

"My big goal for now is just to graduate

high school," Luther said.

She plans to pursue a career in massage therapy. Luther has a friend in the business

with whom she hopes to intern during college.

"She really cares about her future," Vanselus said.

To be nominated for Youth of the Year, Luther had essays written about her by teachers, family and teen staff at the club.

She wrote two essays herself on what the Boys & Girls Club means to her and why post-high school education is important.

Luther also wrote a three-minute speech about her background and how she has overcome obstacles to succeed. She will give the speech in front of separate judges in Seattle for the chance to be the Washington State Youth of the Year.

"It's a lot of work," Vanselus said.

While in Seattle, she'll meet Seattle Sea-hawks players and Gov. Christine Gregoire.

"I'm looking forward to the whole thing," Luther said.

In her spare time, Luther reads, writes poetry, does homework and spends time with family and friends. Her brother, Steven, 18, is one of the closest people in her life.

Luther is only a sophomore and she has

high hopes for the Teen Club in Sequim.

"I'd like to see more people in the Teen Club and for them to do a lot more in the community," Luther said.

"A lot of kids just come and go. I'd like more of them to stick around."

Luther is looking for sponsors to help pay for the trip that will cost about $500 total for her and Vanselus, her sponsor. People can contact Vanselus at the Boys & Girls Club at 683-8095.



Matthew Nash can be reached at mnash@sequimgazette.com.





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