Casper residents turned out in force to support area youth Wednesday morning, and their generosity was on full display.

"We are humbled and honored to announce that our community contributed $662,555.00 toward the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming’s ONE Campaign," said Ashley Bright, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming. "These dollars ensure that every child has a safe, positive environment where their basic needs are met so they can explore education, social, emotional, physical and moral development at 10 Club sites in three counties."

The event marked the 20th Annual Awards & Recognition Breakfast, and included addresses from Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and military aviation pioneer Carey Lohrenz, who was the first woman fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy.

This year's honoree was John Jorgensen, recognized for more than thirty years of service to the community including his work on the Casper College Foundation Board. Jorgensen also founded what is now "Wyoming Reads" in honor of his late wife Sue, and the program has gifted more than 180,000 hard back books to young readers across the state.

Casper police officer Jacob Carlson, who was gravely wounded in a shoot-out in May, was honored with the Mick and Susie McMurry Cowboy Code Try Award. Carlson called his fellow officer Randi Garrett to the stage and credited her for saving his life. Garrett also responded to that incident and killed the suspect who fired on the officers.

Kelly Walsh High School junior Kayla Messmer was named Central Wyoming’s Youth of the Year for 2018-19. Kayla, who aspires to be a pediatric nurse, won a $5,000.00 Ruth R. Ellbogen Education Award, along with the chance to compete at the state level in February.

"On behalf of the more than 10,000 children we serve each year, we are grateful for our community, a community that is doing great these for our young people,” said Bright.

BGCCW Youth of the Year 2018-19, Courtesy BGCCW