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Julian Murray was named the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County Youth of the Year 2018.
Julian Murray was named the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County Youth of the Year 2018. (Courtesy Harford Boys and Girls Clubs)

Julian Murray from the Aberdeen Boys & Girls Club was recently named the 2018 Harford County Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford and Cecil Counties.

The award was presented at the nonprofit's inaugural Youth Celebration Dinner, an event honoring Harford County's youth and the clubs' largest fundraiser of the year. The dinner drew a crowd of more than 600 people. The success of this event along with other fundraising efforts will enable the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford and Cecil Counties to continue to serve more than 7,000 youth annually.

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Murray, a 17-year-old senior at Aberdeen High School, gave an emotional speech applauding the welcoming and safe home he found at the Clubs. Overcoming homelessness, losing his grandparents and bullying, Murray strives to be a shining example for other youth.

"I have to beat the odds," Murray emphasized.

As the 2018 Youth of the Year winner, Murray was awarded a $1,000 education scholarship by the Taco Bell "A Step 2 Success" program. He will be attending Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and aspires to be the first in his family to graduate from a four-year college.

The other finalists were Daequan Mittons, a freshman at Havre de Grace High School; Florish Okigweh, a senior at Harford Technical High School; and Deja Walker, a sophomore at Bel Air High School. All of the runners-up received $500 education scholarships from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County Endowment Scholarship Fund established by long-time supporter Kurt Umbarger of T. Rowe Price.

"We are grateful and overwhelmed by the tremendous support of our community," Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director Derek DeWitt said. "I am proud to witness Julian's growth as an amazing leader amongst his peers, and to see the positive impact our clubs have had on all of our finalists' lives. It is a privilege to play a part in their journey."

This year's Youth Celebration Dinner was emceed by Bob Bloom, general manager at Delmarva Broadcasting Company/WXCY-FM Radio, and Amber Shrodes, Harford County director of community services. Marquee sponsor Richlin Ballroom & Catering provided dinner.

A Bel Air Boys & Girls Club alumnus, Bryant Stewart, client executive, international accounts at AT&T Global Public Sector Solutions, traveled from Wall Street back to Harford County to deliver a motivational keynote speech to club kids and community members. As he reflected on his personal path to success and the role the club played in his life, he advised today's youth that being successful is as easy as "PIE" – Performance, Image and Exposure. Young people must work hard, be aware of the way they carry themselves and what they post on social media and be active within their community: a recipe for success that can be carried out during their time at the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Additional Youth Celebration Dinner sponsors included APG Federal Credit Union, Harford Community College, Harford Mutual Insurance Companies, Bernie & BJ Muth, Point Breeze Credit Union and SURVICE Engineering.

To learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford and Cecil Counties programs including annual membership, Camp Hidden Valley and summer enrichment programs and to make a donation to help the clubs serve more youth, more often, visit www.bgcharfordcecil.org or call 410-272-0010.

Upcoming event opportunities include the 22nd Annual Vi Ripken's Diamonds in the Rough Golf Tournament, Cecil County Youth Celebration Dinner, Kiss a Pig, Harford County's Hardest 5K and Catch a Pig.

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