La Crosse Logan’s Kemmesha Thomas wins ‘WI Youth of the Year’ competition

La Crosse Logan senior and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse member, Kemmesha Thomas, was awarded the Wisconsin Boys and Girls Club ‘Youth of the Year’ Tuesday in Madison.

Thomas competed against 19 other candidates from Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the state. 

Youth of the Year is the Boys and Girls Club premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club teens. Club members who earn the Youth of the Year title embody the values of leadership service; academic excellence; and healthy lifestyles. They exemplify the critical impact that Boys Girls Clubs have on the lives of young people.

Kemmesha is a member of the Logan basketball team, cross country team, a two-time state champion on the track team, she even plays in the Ranger band. Now she can add Wisconsin ‘Youth of the Year’ to her resume.

“I still can’t believe it, that I won,” Kemmesha said.

She was selected to represent the Boys and Girls Club of Greater La Crosse in the youth of the year program.

At the state competition she had to give two speeches and be interviewed by the judges. Her speeches focused on perseverance, determination and staying positive. All things Kemmesha has had experience with in her young life.

“My family became homeless my sophomore year, before then we were back and forth between Chicago when I was super young,” she said.

Kemmesha said when she landed permanently in La Crosse and became a member of the Boys and Girls Club it changed her life. Now she is one of the only high schoolers ever to be working at the Boys and Girls Club.

“Kemmesha’s a great role model for little kids and when little kids think they’re having a tough day, who can relate to that better than Kemmesha can? To teach them that lesson about, ‘Move forward, move forward, there’s a positive outcome here.’ She’s lived it,” Mike Desmond, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater La Crosse, said.

Kemmesha credits her success to the people she has surrounded herself with all her life. She encourages everyone going through a tough time to do what she does, forget about the past and always look for the light at the end of the tunnel.

“There’s nothing else I could do so I just roll with it and try to turn it around,” Kemmesha said.

Kemmesha said she is “super honored” to have won the award and looks forward to representing La Crosse and the state of Wisconsin. Her win earned her a $5,000 scholarship. She’ll also move on to the Regional competition in July. The winner of that competition will earn a $10,000 scholarship, which is renewable for up to four years. 

After graduation Kemmesha said she is “93 percent” certain she wants to go to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to study physical therapy. She said when she tore her ACL in 2014, her physical therapist pushed her through recovery. She wants to do the same thing and help others reach their goals no matter the obstacle.

News 8’s Charlie Clifford profiled Kemmesha Thomas in a story in January.  You can watch it here.