Dolls for Daughters® and Kenzi’s Kidz founder Jessica Bachus was honored this past weekend in Lisle, IL as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans for 2011. Bachus was honored for her ability to overcome tragedy and turn her grief in to something amazing by creating Dolls for Daughters® and Kenzi’s Kidz.
The history of this award is simply inspiring.
The Ten Outstanding Young Americans (TOYA) project exists to recognize and honor ten Americans each year who exemplify the best attributes of the nation’s young people, aged 18 through 40.
The Ten Outstanding Young Men program was officially adopted in 1938 and has been conducted annually since 1940. In 1984, The U.S. Junior Chamber admitted women as members and, in accordance with this change, reorganized this awards program to reflect the organization’s membership. In 1985, the program was officially changed to Ten Outstanding Young Americans, recognizing the accomplishments of young women and men.
Winners are selected on their achievement or contribution in at least three of the following areas: personal improvement or accomplishment; financial success or economic innovation; social improvement to major contemporary problems; philanthropic contribution or voluntary service; politics or government service; scientific or technological contributions; legal reform; cultural achievement (literature, history, education, arts); academic leadership or accomplishment; moral and religious leadership; athletic accomplishment; success in the influence of public opinion; any other important contribution to the community, state, or nation.
Copies of all entries are sent to screening judges who independently select and rank the twenty semi-finalists. The entries of the semi-finalists are sent to finalist judges who independently narrow the selection to the ten men and women selected as TOYA honorees.
Of the more than 600 young Americans honored, many were recognized before the achievements for which they are now known: John F. Kennedy, Gerald R. Ford, Ann Bancroft, Gale Sayers, Elvis Presley, Dan Quayle, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Larry Holmes, Bill Clinton, Jeanna Yeager, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko-Wilson. Refer to the USJC website for a complete listing of the past honorees.
The trophy Bachus holds is the TOYA trophy with its own history. Each TOYA Recipent recieves the Silver Hands trophy. The inscription on its base reads, “The hope of mankind lies in the hands of youth and action.” Each honoree has shown a commitment to that hope, reminding all Americans that no problem is too difficult when handled with grace, ingenuity, courage, and determination. The trophy is named the JAYSON, an acronym standing for “Jaycess: Active Youth Serving Our Nation.” Each one weighs 11.5 pounds and is constructed of a marble base with nickel-plated hands.
The trophy was designed by 1954 recipient Arthur M. Kraft.