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America's Best Youth Sports Leaders Dream, Reach, Succeed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

CONTACT:

Sally S. Cunningham, Executive Director
National Council of Youth Sports
Phone: (772) 781-1452
youthsports@ncys.org

STUART, Fla. (September 5, 2005) - Opportunity prevails for millions of men and women to be recognized for their steadfast dedication to the youth sports industry. The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) has named four individuals from hometown communities throughout the United States as recipients of its second annual Hershey's STRIVE Awards.

STRIVE stands for Sports Teach Respect, Initiative, Values and Excellence and the awards honors adult leaders for their "heartfelt passion, enthusiastic commitment and contagious spirit to help kids succeed in youth sports activities." This year, NCYS will present Hershey's STRIVE Awards to two administrators, one volunteer and one coach. Honorees were nominated by team members, parents or colleagues and judged by a panel of NCYS officials.

"These award recognize four outstanding leaders, but these individuals are not alone," said Stephanie Moritz of The Hershey Company, which sponsors the award. "They are a reflection of thousands of other youth sports mentors across the nation that work very hard and expect little or nothing in return. Hershey congratulates each of this year's winners and we are proud to be associated with them."

Among the honorees is Rob Martin from Perkasie Pennsylvania who has carried his vision to admired achievement earning him the title of Hershey's STRIVE Local Youth Sports Administrator of the Year. In 1995, Martin began transforming the Deep Run Valley Sports Association's (DRVSA) softball program to what community supporters now say is now "the luckiest sports association in Pennsylvania."

Through his exemplary leadership Martin has shaped a youth sports program introducing the "Everybody Hits" program for special needs players, implementing coaches and umpires clinics/training, a youth coaching mentoring program, and more than doubling the youth participation in the intramural program. Martin led his association to raise substantial funds to build a state-of-the-art sports facility complete with five fields, permanent fencing, a two-story clubhouse, concrete block dugouts, bleachers, a pavilion, and batting cages.

Martin is dedicated to creating an undying zeal for the girls and their families as well as a safe environment for all children of all skill levels to play. Martin humbly says, "Every girl should experience the fun side of the game."

Lenny Silberman, Jewish Community Center Association's Director of the JCC Maccabi Games, earned the title Hershey's STRIVE National Administrator of the Year Award. Among many exceptional achievements, Silberman created the "Day of Caring, Day of Sharing" where youngsters are taught the lesson to give back to others in the form of a community service project and to help "repair the world." Silberman has also been instrumental in advancing the Israel Sport Center for the Disabled, a leading rehabilitation facility.

The JCC Maccabi Games are an annual international Olympic style sporting and cultural sharing event, which, under Silberman's leadership, has grown from 2,200 to 6,500 teenage athletes. Silberman is committed to sports being the conduit through which children learn life lesson, values, compassion and ethics.

Sally Cunningham, NCYS Executive Director, noted that the shortage of national spotlights for those involved in youth sports prompted the NCYS to create the awards.

"We felt it was time to recognize them on a larger stage and to give them the praise they deserve," Cunningham said. "Many of these individuals devote countless hours each week, all while juggling full-time careers, families, and other commitments."

Others STRIVE Award winners include Janet Holliday, who thirteen years ago became the chair of the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame Tribute. The gala occasion recognizes the legends in sports. All event proceeds go towards young hopefuls "Dream for Youth" program which provides training to disadvantaged children in the Olympic sports of badminton, diving, gymnastics, fencing, swimming, and volleyball. Holliday is also an active leader of the Go!Kids Challenge, a fitness walking program for K-5th graders and the co-chair of the NCAA Final Four Division 1 Volleyball Championship.

Holliday says, "I have seen time and time again the relationship between sports skills and life skills. I will do my best to continue to 'strive' for excellence in sports for our young people." For her efforts, she was recognized with the Hershey's STRIVE Volunteer of the Year award.

Brenda Gilmore of Upper Marlboro, Maryland received the Hershey's STRIVE Coach of the Year honors for her devotion to the Prince George's Tennis & Education Foundation. Against all odds, and from a wheelchair, Gilmore launched the foundation to enrich the lives of under-served county youth through productive activities.

Gilmore coaches tennis as well as after-school programs, tutorial and college preparation assistance, high-performance player support and tennis camps for hundreds of youth of all ages. The program develops self-esteem and promotes physical activity, healthy lifestyles, life skills, and academic excellence. Gilmore is an example of all that is best sport and life. She is a role model of inspiration both on and off the court.

Winners will receive a check for $2,500, payable to the youth sports organization of his or her choice. Ceremonies for each will be held in their communities or at their organization's national conference.

ABOUT THE NCYS:
The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) comprises the who's who in the youth sports industry. Its membership represents more than 173 organizations/corporations serving 52 million boys and girls participating in organized youth sports throughout the United States. NCYS member organizations include Little League Baseball, Pop Warner Football, the American Youth Soccer Association and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. To learn more about the Council visit www.ncys.org.

ABOUT The Hershey Company:
The Hershey Company has long offered successful fundraising programs for youth in America. Its sponsorship of the STRIVE Awards stems from The Hershey Company's devotion to helping children of all ages to "Dream, Reach and Succeed" in everything that they do. For more information about The Hershey Company and its fundraising programs, visit www.hersheysfundraising.com.