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Longtime Boys & Girls Clubs member honored in statewide competition

Toledo native Ashley Cutcher competed in the 'Youth of the Year' program. Here's how she did.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Ashley Cutcher remembers being shy as she grew up in school and in the early days of attending the Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo.

"I didn't talk to anybody," Cutcher said. "I think I only went to the club because I had friends and my brother worked there."

But now, she confidently walks down the halls as a senior at Toledo Central Catholic High School. As a member of the East Toledo Boys & Girls Clubs for 11 years, Ashley was transformed.

A mentor, Alicia Flenoy, helped her get through the death of her father in her Junior year.

"She just always asked me if I was okay and she would make me laugh all the time, so I had my mind off of everything," Cutcher said.

In recent days, Ashley competed in the Boys & Girls Clubs' signature recognition event called the Youth of the Year award. 

As one of eight finalists, she gave a nerve-wracking speech at the Statehouse.

Boys & Girls Clubs Director of Programming Gerri Peters said Ashley built the speech around a visit to a local apple orchard with other club members years before.

"And she was reaching for an apple that was just out of her reach," Peters said. "She couldn't get it. And then the speech continued ... talking about how at the end, she's going to reach for that apple and she's going to get it this time."

Ashley impressed the judges and finished as second runner up: third place in the entire state of Ohio. 

Credit: Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo
Ashley Cutcher with State Senator Theresa Gavarone after finishing third in the state

"When she was speaking, when she gave her speech, the tears were flowing in the room. It was wonderful," Peters said.

Ashley now has the hardware - two certificates - to show what she accomplished.

When asked if she ever expected an honor like this, Ashley said, "No. I knew that I was going to do great things, but not this."

Ashley is now working for the Boys & Girls Clubs during the week as a teen mentor at the David Wehrmeister Club.

She will soon graduate from Central Catholic High School and will enroll in the University of Toledo where she plans to study Exercise Science and pursue a career in physical therapy.

Ashley said she wants to help others.

"I just want to see people at their full potential and be their best selves," she said. 

Gerri Peters has no doubt that Ashley is on the verge of something big.

"I call her my butterfly, because I have seen her just blossom. She has come out of her cocoon and now she's just flying around and she's going to change the world. I believe it," Peters said.

The overall winner of the Youth of the Year Award was Samarion Newell of Sandusky.



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