Our Youth of the Year Mario has had an amazing and inspiring journey to where he is now. When he was eight, he and moved with his parents and sister from Cuba to the United States where they felt he would be provided with better opportunities for the future. At first, he experienced major culture shock.

“I entered an unfamiliar culture with a different language and a new way of life. I was lonely and struggled to fit in,” said Mario.

Everything changed when he joined the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua. He started swimming everyday as the pool became his refuge and later joined many of the other programs the Club had to offer. Over the years, his Club staff mentors took notice of his interests and helped to grow them into passions.

After seeing Mario’s commitment to swimming, Lifeguard Domingo became a mentor, encouraging him every day to excel at what he loved to do. Soccer Coach Jared instilled in him a drive to be his best, not just as an athlete, but as a student, friend, and contributing member of the community. Volunteer Fred M. (we call him Professor X) introduced him to technology-based programs such as Science of Sports and KIXX and motivated him to pursue it further.

“Mario is a multi-faceted individual,” said professor X. “He is a champion athlete in more than one sport, an accomplished musician, and a superior student. Mario continuously sets the bar for others to reach.”

Through his involvement in these programs, Mario started to speak up more and realize his potential as a leader. He also grew in confidence and his ability to be a team player.

At the age of 10 he joined the national swim team and has since broken 11 swim records. He also won the Tommy Zimmerman award, the swim team’s highest honor, and his team went on to win the Science of Sports science fair, earning a $1,000 scholarship and the opportunity to meet Bob Kraft, an important leader in the sports industry.

“The Club has given me the opportunities my parents always hoped I’d have,” said Mario. “My hope now is that every kid who comes through the Club’s doors lonely and unsure of who they are or where they belong gets the same opportunity.”