YOY - The Capital

Glen Burnie High Senior Named Youth of the Year 

Danae Cannedy found inspiration at her afternoon haven. Cannedy, a member of the Freetown Village Boys & Girls Club, credited her mentor — club Director  Angela White — for pushing her to  become more involved. She joined Keystone and successfully ran for president of the Student Government Association at Glen Burnie High School.

“I’m grateful to go to a place where kids can be safe, have fun, and no drama,” Cannedy said. “The club helped me overcome my shyness, speak up and be assertive.” The 18-year-old was named the 25th winner of the Ed Casey Youth of the Year Award Thursday night. The awards ceremony also marked the debut of Steven M. Cornette, the new chief professional officer at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County. Cornette previously was director of operations and Alumni Services at the Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County, Fla., which has 13 clubs and is one of the largest clubs in the United States. “I’m excited to be able to touch the lives of over 2,000 kids,” Cornette said. “I’m not about titles, just about doing what is best for the kids and highlighting their accomplishments.”

Cannedy will attend Lake Forest College in Illinois as a pre-law major this fall. She was selected from five youths of the year chosen by their community clubs: Paul Johnson, 14, of Annapolis Gardens; Arthur Slade, 14, of Bywater; Antonique Williams, 16, of Wiley H. Bates Heritage Park; Brittany Taylor, 18, of Admiral Oaks; and Janel Adkins, 17, of Meade Village. All six teens received a citation from the Anne Arundel County Council and a notebook computer. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County has six clubs, serving 2,200 children. The award is named for the late Ed Casey, a founder of the county’s clubs and the longtime managing editor of The Capital.

Peter Summers, president of the clubs’ board of directors, said Cornette was chosen because he met all criteria, including success leading a complex
organization, and also had a demonstrated commitment to the Boys & Girls Club mission.The Lake Worth, Fla., resident begins his new position Monday. Cornette, 31, and his wife, Katie, have an 11-month-old son. The family plans to move to this area within six months.

In his first speech to the group, Cornette described how he reluctantly became a member of his local Boys & Girls Club in Palm Beach County at age 9. The former college basketball player said he grew up in a household with a father who was a former Marine and a Vietnam veteran. A year after Cornette’s birth, his father was paralyzed from the chest down in a fall, and suffered severe stress from his Vietnam experience. An older brother was running with an unsavory crowd. 

“It started with a knock on the door,” Cornette said. The knock, at 2:30 a.m. was a police officer telling his family his older brother’s body had been found. He’d been killed and dumped in a canal that ran into a swamp near their home. Cornette said he was angry, confrontational, confused and lacking direction. He was getting into trouble in school. His mother insisted upon enrolling him at the local Boys & Girls Club. Membership was $20 a year. Under the mentorship of a man he called “Coach,” Cornette gradually went from being a member to becoming a mentor himself. Cornette went on to play basketball at the University of North Carolina, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in political science, with a focus on education and special education. He played on the school’s NCAA Division I basketball team, the Charlotte 49ers.

Cannedy’s life has not been easy either. Her mother gave birth to her at age 15. Her father was 14. “My mom is single and has struggled to raise me and my two siblings,” Cannedy said. “My sister is 10 and my brother is 4. The Boys & Girls Club has been a place where I can go and be in a wholesome environment. “I stay busy with school, the Student Government Association, Chesapeake Region Association of Student Councils and the Boys & Girls Club.” Looking over at the other teens in the audience, Cannedy told them they can be more than another statistic “You don’t have to be stuck in one place,” she said.

“There’s a whole world out there to explore.”
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