The Press Newspaper
Alexa Wegman wanted to be a part of Youth Leadership Toledo for one reason.
“It was important to me because I want to be a leader,” the Northwood High School sophomore said. “I consider myself to be a leader now, but the fact that other people saw me with the potential to be a leader was flattering. I wanted to learn the skills and make a difference in this community. I wanted to meet people and make my sophomore year that much more memorable.”
Youth Leadership Toledo (YLT) recognizes the important contributions young adults make in creating a strong, progressive community. YLT, which is patterned after the Community Leadership Program, consists of 50 sophomores who meet from August to May in monthly daylong sessions. Students who exhibit leadership skills in their schools and communities are nominated by their schools for the program.
In the final phase of the program, students select and complete volunteer community improvement projects. The program's main objective is “to assist in training our young people to be effective leaders now and in the future and to stimulate interest in community involvement.”
Seven sophomores from the Press coverage area are involved in the YLT service group this year – Wegman and Lucretia Tittle from Northwood, Trevor Walsh and Logan Taylor from Lake, Todd Klewer from Clay, Jake Lynn from Cardinal Stritch and Josh Murphy from Waite.
Wegman and Walsh are organizing a fundraiser for Vail Meadows Equestrian Center, 6118 Cedar Point Rd., as their service project. The students are working in conjunction with Vail Meadows owner Joy Vail to host a 5K run and one-mile Fun Run for kids age 12 and under on Sunday, April 10.
Money raised from the 5K run will go to Vail Meadows' disability programs. The 5K run will begin at Vail Meadows and go down Cedar Point Road back to Vail Meadows.
Joy Vail said Wegman and Walsh called her in early March to pitch their idea for a fundraiser for Vail Meadows. The students then met with Vail to tell her about YLT.
“I was so impressed with those two kids,” Vail said. “They called me and said they're part of Youth Leadership Toledo, but I had never heard of it. We work with teenagers all the time at Vail, volunteers from Clay, Notre Dame, Cardinal Stritch, Central Catholic, and St. Ursula. I asked them to come out during a class, and Alexa was very familiar with us because her sister used to volunteer here.
“I was very happy they picked us for a service project. I was so impressed with these kids. It's so good to know that there are these really neat teenagers out there thinking about their community and not about themselves. They're doing lots of work to do things, and it's nice to see.”
Registration is now under way and donations are being taken for the Vail Meadows 5K run, which begins at 9 a.m. on April 10. Participants can register at 7:30 a.m. on race day.
“Pre-registration is $15 and you get a T-shirt, and it's $10 if you don't want a T-shirt,” Vail said. “On the day of the race it's $20 for a T-shirt while supplies last, and $15 without a T-Shirt. This is open to everybody. The one-mile Fun Run for kids under 12 costs $5 and will be held on Vail property. We are looking for at least 150 (participants).”
Wegman and Walsh have been going to local businesses seeking donations for the 5K run. Donations will go toward purchasing the race T-shirts.
Wegman said choosing Vail Meadows for a YLT service project was a no-brainer.
“We did it because they do such a great thing and they are not nearly praised enough,” Wegman said. “We wanted to give money to Vail and have them appreciated and help them out in a much bigger way. Trevor and I worked together and we went out there together. Joy was just the most upbeat and happiest person. You could tell she loved what she is doing.”
Vail Meadows opened in August 1998 to serve special-needs children and adults regardless of ability, age or individual circumstances by offering them the opportunity to interact emotionally and physically with special horses in the peaceful harmony of a farm setting.
“We started with eight special riders and we now service approximately 50 per week,” Vail said. “Our programs are based on the help of over 60 generous volunteers from our community churches, schools and service programs. Vail Meadows is a village of special-needs adults and children, Luther Home of Mercy, equestrian riders and Vail Meadows boarders, as well as citizens of the surrounding Toledo area and counties, all working together for the common good of our community.”
To register for the Vail Meadows 5K run, call Alexa Wegman, 419-973-0901, Trevor Walsh, 419-704-8519, or Joy Vail, 419-708-0284.
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