Bryant youth wins $20,000 for B&G Club

By Wayne Bryan Published December 8, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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BRYANT — Ethan Harris, a fifth-grader at Hurricane Creek Elementary School in Bryant, said he was excited Wednesday night — he was on his way to be fitted for a tuxedo.

The 11-year-old would wear the tux to the Starlight Gala Saturday night benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Bryant. Not only was he being allowed to stay up late and attend the black-tie event; he would be one of the stars of the gala, having won $20,000 for the club.

Ethan recently won a national

“America’s Vote” election held on the Internet to become one of 25 Boys & Girls Clubs of America professionals and volunteers honored by the Dependable Leader program sponsored by the Maytag Corp.

“During the past three years, Maytag and the BGCA have recognized and promoted dependability — a quality that is at the core of what the clubs do every day and is central to the Maytag brand,” said Andrea Betts, a spokeswoman for the contest with Ketchum, a public relations firm. “America’s Vote is an extension of the Dependable Leader program that invited people across the U.S. to select the final award winners.”

“We got a phone call and then an email Tuesday from the Boys & Girls Club of America headquarters in Atlanta that Ethan had won,” said his mother, Carla Harris. “During the voting, we found he was the only kid who was a candidate.”

Harris credits Suzanne Passmore, executive director of the Bryant club, for Ethan’s nomination.

“Typically, the nomination for the award is for a member of the board of directors or a staff member,” Harris said, “but Suzanne was thinking outside the box and picked Ethan.”

Passmore called her nominee “an outstanding 11-year-old,” in an email about the voting.

“Ethan has gone above and beyond to make a difference in our club and in his community,” she said. “He was nominated for his continued efforts to raise money for the club.”

Ethan’s road to winning the award started after the club asked its members to help raise funds for the club in It Just Takes One kid’s campaign.

“One day I just asked how I could help, and it all started,” Ethan said. “When I got home, I said I wanted to do more than just ask people for money.”

Ethan’s mother said they asked the management of a restaurant, Luigi’s Pizza & Pasta of Bryant, to take part in the event, and the manager agreed.

“They pledged to contribute 10 percent of that night’s earnings,” Harris said. “Then Ethan went around to the tables and talked with people, explaining about the clubs and what they do, and he raised $1,000 that night.”

After Ethan was nominated, his family, the club and the community went into high gear.

“We found out he was a finalist in late October,” Harris said. “We were told he was one of five in the voting and the only child. We were asked to do a video with Ethan and to provide a head shot, and I wrote a bio of him, and they placed all that online at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America website.

“I created a Facebook page and asked everyone I knew to like it and share it with others. Then some of the businesses got into the campaign, and there were T-shirts and fliers, and I got him on all the TV stations. It was a big deal all the way around.”

Harris said she did not yet know how many votes were received by her son, but she said she had been told Ethan won in a landslide.

A local ceremony will be held at the Bryant Club at The Center at Bishop Park. Harris said no date has been set and that it might be later in the week or early next week. The weather will be a factor.

“There will be refreshments for the kids and for all the community,” she said. “They are the ones who voted and supported him. The community should be invited. Ethan will be presented with a plaque from the national club and the check from Maytag.”

Ethan will be talking with Passmore about how the funds will be used.

“Miss Suzanne said she wants to hear Ethan’s ideas,” Harris said. “He has thought about getting iPads for the club members to use, a gaming system, or more equipment for the playground.”

Ethan said he wants the funds to go for the good of the club.

“With this much, we could get several different things,” he said. “We will just see what we can get that would do the most good for everyone.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or at wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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