Hamilton teen seeks top Midwest honor for Boys and Girls Clubs

Credit: Michael D. Pitman

Credit: Michael D. Pitman

Demarion Samples wants to help give a voice to those who may not have the courage or the ability to speak ― yet.

Samples has a severe stutter accompanied by facial tics. Though it impacts his speech every day, it hasn’t stopped him from telling his story about his speech impediment, coming out as gay, or attempting suicide as many as 10 times since the 18-year-old became a teenager.

This week, Samples is in Chicago to compete for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Midwest Youth of the Year title, a contest that includes a lot of talking. He left for Chicago on Tuesday and he’s scheduled to compete on Thursday. In addition to a resumè, Samples and the other contestants deliver a speech, write three essays, be interviewed by a panel of judges, collect three reference letters, and write a resume and cover letter.

Before heading out, the Hamilton teen told the Journal-News he was “super nervous but excited” about the Midwest competition. Though there is “lots of pressure” for Samples, he had shown he can handle it when earlier this year the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton member was named Youth of the Year for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ohio.

A club first.

Preparing for the Midwest competition involves a lot of speech practice and being put in front of crowds, including before several dozen at a recent Hamilton City Council meeting and a larger crowd at the gym dedication for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton’s Grand Boulevard location.

Credit: Michael D. Pitman

Credit: Michael D. Pitman

“It is a huge deal,” said Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton Executive Director Tommy John, adding he’ll serve as the ambassador and advocate for teens for Ohio for all Boys and Girls Clubs for the next year. “Demarion has a platform for advocating for positive mental health, positive place of being for teens all across the state of Ohio.”

The local practice helps him through his speech impediment, and helps him get used to telling his story. After he came out as gay in his early teens, he was alienated by some friends and family and had several suicide attempts.

“Even though I’m sharing my story, I still feel just so emotional about it because I’m reliving it every time I tell my story. But I’m helping people out there, and people are being connected to it and relating to it,” Samples said. “It makes me happy because it feels like I matter and I’m helping others who matter, and be able to speak for themselves.”

He said suicide is “so prominent in our generation” and no parent wants that call to hear that their child has taken their life. “It is so devastating.”

“I just want to be a voice of people and me telling my story helps them to not take their lives,” said Samples, who, after first wanting to be a neurosurgeon is now leaning toward studying psychology and learning how the brain works.

About the Author