Toledo native Ashley Kutcher participated in the Youth of the Year program. That’s how she did it.

TOLEDO, Ohio – Ashley Kutcher remembers being shy growing up in school and in her first days attending Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo.

“I haven’t talked to anybody,” Kutcher said. “I think I only went to the club because I had friends over and my brother worked there.”

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

A teacher, Alicia Flenoa, helped her get over her father’s death in her junior year.

“She was always asking me if I was okay, and she was always making me laugh, so I took my mind off everything,” Kutcher said.

In recent days, Ashley has participated in the Boys & Girls Clubs’ signature Youth of the Year event.

As one of eight finalists, she gave a nervous speech at the State House.

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

“And she was reaching for an apple that was out of her reach,” Peters said. “She couldn’t get it. And then the speech went on … it’s about eventually she’s going to reach for that apple and she’s going to get it this time.”

Ashley wowed the judges and placed second: third in the entire state of Ohio.

“When she gave her speech, there were tears in the room. It was awesome,” Peters said.

Ashley now has the equipment – two certificates – to show what she has achieved.

When asked if she expected such an honor, Ashley said, “No. I knew I would do great things, but not this.”

Ashley currently works at the Boys & Girls Clubs during the week as a teen mentor at David Vermeister’s club.

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

Ashley said she wants to help others.

“I just want to see people reach their full potential and be the best they can be,” she said.

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

“I call her my butterfly because I saw her just bloomed. She came out of her cocoon and now she’s just flying around and going to change the world. I believe that,” Peters said.

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


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