Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Honored youth sets a high standard

Chambers to honor Youth Citizen of the Year

Express Staff Writer

Chauncey McGraw, center, has served more than 300 hours of community service in the last two years. Photo by

Eighth in a series on winners of the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau and Hailey Chamber of Commerce Community Awards.

Most kids know how to have fun. How many know how to do it while helping others? The Wood River Valley's 2008 Youth Citizen of the Year award winner, Chauncey McGraw, is a role model for students who want to make a difference in the world.

The award is one of nine Community Awards to be presented tonight by the Sun Valley-Ketchum and Hailey chambers of commerce to individuals, organizations and businesses that have made significant contributions to the community.

A member of the Blaine County Teen Advisory Council since middle school, McGraw now serves on the organization's executive council. He attended the National Youth Leadership Conference for the past two years. In 2006, he traveled on a scholarship to Albuquerque, N.M., to hear famed primatologist Jane Goodall speak on the importance of effecting change in local communities. Last year, he traveled on his own nickel, working at L.L. Green Hardware in Hailey to save money for a trip to Minneapolis, Minn., to hear Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

"Chauncey earned his own money for the second conference so that someone else could take advantage of the scholarship he won the first year," said Frances Nagashima of the Youth Adult Connection (YAK!) in Hailey.

"He is a very humble kid who doesn't like drawing attention to himself," said Nagashima, who oversees many of the programs Chauncy is involved with.

Nagashima said McGraw did more than 80 hours of volunteer community service during the school year and more than 50 hours the following summer, including a five-day backcountry Frank Church Stewardship trip to maintain trails and build fences in the Idaho wilderness.

McGraw has also helped out at the "Souper Supper" community soup kitchens at St. Charles Catholic Church in Hailey, provided support for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, and worked with disabled veterans in the Sun Valley Adaptive Sports program. He also serves as Idaho youth representative for the International Special Olympics Committee.

Despite his many extra-curricular activities, McGraw still finds time to play lacrosse, football and hockey and to ride his snowboard.

"I am always surprised, but never amazed by Chauncey," says his father, Gary McGraw. "He is an incredible kid. He just keeps going and going. I am very proud of him."

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