When Ahkeem Hollimon’s grandmother marched him into the Boys & Girls Club six years ago, little did he know that he was embarking on a path that would lead to an incredibly bright future and a face-to-face meeting with the President of the United States.
“I was only 11, but my grandmother was tired of me getting in trouble at school,” said Ahkeem. “I thought I was being punished, but it turned out to be the luckiest day of my life.”
Thanks in part to United Way funded programs* offered through the Tupperware Brands Branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida in Kissimmee, Ahkeem developed the character, leadership and academic skills he needed to overcome many obstacles, including the tragic loss of his brother who died two years ago in a robbery.
Making the Right Choices
At 15, I had to step up and become the big brother of the family,” he said. “When I saw the pain on my mother’s face, I realized it was time to become a young man. Everybody has choices. I knew I had to make the right ones.”
Among those choices was Ahkeem’s decision to do well in school and pursue bigger dreams. After graduating earlier this year from Osceola International High School, he is now attending Valencia Community College where he’s preparing for a career in business management and engineering. In his spare time, he also works at his childhood Boys & Girls Club where he is helping guide and mentor a new generation of kids.
Youth of the Year Award
In recognition of his remarkable success, Ahkeem was named 2011 Southeast Region Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America ‒ an honor that led to a recent trip to Washington, D.C. and an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama.
The experience, as well as the President’s heartfelt advice, only reinforced what Ahkeem has already learned. “The President told me to never give up on my dreams and to always strive for excellence,” he said. “To that, I would add one more thing ‒ never forget where you came from.”
*When you support United Way, you support more than 345,800 Central Floridians like Ahkeem who are served each year through the 108 local agency programs we help fund. To make an immediate donation to United Way’s 2011-12 campaign, click here.