Olympic dreams become real for BGCA youth

“I started going to the Boys & Girls Clubs when I was about 11 years old,” says Whitney Stewart. “There were a lot of challenges that my family was dealing with, and I didn’t believe in myself,” adds Whitney, who’s now 20.

“The mentors that I met there and everything that I experienced at the Club changed my life — honestly, saved my life.”

Whitney Stewart celebrates at Rio
BGCA National Youth of the Year, Whitney Stewart (second from left), celebrates at the Rio Olympics with the TODAY Show's Hoda Kotb.

Stories like Whitney’s are the reason Comcast NBCUniversal has supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for more than 15 years. We recognize youth like Whitney are the future of our communities. And when she was named BGCA’s 2015–16 National Youth of the Year — for outstanding leadership, commitment to community service, and academic excellence — we were proud to offer her the adventure of a lifetime.

“The Olympics are a testament that with concentrated effort, tenacity, and a chance, a child with a dream can grow up to be great.”

Whitney Stewart | Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2015–16 National Youth of the Year

As part of our support for BGCA, we invited Whitney to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. There, side by side with the team from NBC Sports, she learned the ins and outs of major sports broadcasting as she got a look behind the scenes of the media and technology that went into producing the Games.

Around the world, followers kept up on her journey through Snapchat and Twitter. #WhitGoesToRio captured incredible moments of discovery and learning. Like touring the production compound at the Olympic swimming venue. She also had the opportunity to visit NBC’s daytime set with sportscaster Mike Tirico and the TODAY Show and late-night sets with Ryan Seacrest and to interview some of her idols in the International Broadcast Center.

Whitney Stewart meets Michael Phelps
Whitney Stewart meets Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps at the Rio Olympics.

Whitney’s experience in Rio helped bring her purpose into even greater focus.

“As the 2015–16 National Youth of the Year for BGCA, I have the privilege of representing kids who, every day, defy the odds stacked against them to lead, succeed, and inspire,” she says. “The Olympics are a testament that with concentrated effort, tenacity, and a chance, a child with a dream can grow up to be great.”

When she looks back on the support she received through BGCA and Comcast NBCUniversal, Whitney, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, reflects on the importance of finding an organization that would give her that chance. And we’ve given her another chance by inviting her to spend her summer interning with us at our corporate headquarters.

“To have adults believe in you, when you don’t believe that you have a future, is incredibly impactful,” she says.

Whitney Stewart on social media
Whitney Stewart kept followers up to date on her journey through social media.


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