Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the US Jaycees Annual Meeting was the TOYA awards. Over the years TOYA recipients have represented the cultural, economic, and personal progress of their time, and this year’s winners were no exception. All under the age of 40, TOYA recipients truly exemplify that “service to humanity is the best work of life.“
One of my favorite speeches came from Jennifer L. Livingston, new anchor for WKBT. After her husband shared a cruel letter she received online that criticized her for being overweight, Jennifer used that momentum to start an anti-bullying movement. Many of her videos are used in the classroom setting. It was particularly touching when she shared how she received a letter from a 12 year old boy saying how he realized that he was a bully after watching her video.
Former America’s Got Talent winner Landau Eugene Murphy lightened the mood a little later and won our hearts by cracking jokes and serenading us with My Way, That’s Life and I Get A Kick Out of You. Landau spoke about being homeless and how he used his voice to escape violence in Detroit growing up. He now uses his fame to help give back to those who came from similar backgrounds.
Another awe-inspiring recipient was Michael Schultz. After Michael lost his leg in a snow mobile accident, he decided to make a prosthetic leg that can withstand extreme sports and went on to win four gold and two silver medals in the Adaptive X-games in the past few year. He now is founder, inventor, and fabricator at Biodapt, Inc where he helps create performance prosthetics and adaptive equipment for other who have suffered injuries that would have otherwise inhibited their active lifestyle.
All of the winners were inspiring and made me proud to be a member of the United States Junior Chamber.
— Candace Norris