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Hamburg youth bureau honors award winners

The Town of Hamburg Youth Bureau recognized 10 adult volunteers, professionals and coaches, as well as 10 teens, at the 26th annual Service to Youth Banquet held May 1 at Michael’s Banquet Facility in Hamburg.

Barb Wagner was presented with the Michael J. Dundon Service to Youth Award. The Dundon Award is presented annually to the person who best exemplifies the service of the late Michael J. Dundon, a longtime executive director of the youth bureau. Dundon Award recipients must be paid professionals employed within the township and people who exhibit the highest degree of professionalism and dedication to their work, going above and beyond their job descriptions in giving directly to Hamburg youth. Wagner is a registered nurse employed by the Hamburg Central School District. In nominating her for the award, her colleagues noted Wagner’s dedication to students at Hamburg High School, where she has led and participated in health-related trainings and activities.

The Youth Bureau bestowed Service to Youth Awards upon Midge Harrington, Walter Rooth III and Rick Szabala. Recipients of this award are recognized for having given a high degree of their time, energy, dedication and commitment to youth development in general, or in particular, within the town of Hamburg. Candidates must exhibit consistent efforts over several years, working with or for youth in the community in voluntary, unpaid positions of service and must live in the town or have contributed their volunteer service to an organization within the town that serves youth.

Harrington is a member of the Hamburg PTSA and has organized and led a number of special events supporting the Hamburg Bulldogs Booster Club. She has also served on various PTSA committees. Rooth, an attorney who has coached boys baseball for many years, is now in his third year as a coach for girls baseball and organized a mock trial team for students.

He is also Hamburg town attorney, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Hamburg and a volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Szabala has served as a coach with the Hamburg Monarch Soccer Club for more than seven years, along with running the team’s Snack Shack.

Sean Muldowney, Ralph Colucci, Steve Chaffee, Chris Damiani and Keith Thurnherr were each named Character Coaches of the Year. Recipients of this award must personify the Code of Ethics of the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. Award winners display qualities that include being teachers during practices and being coaches on game day only; and in being positive role models who lead by example and demonstrate fairness and sportsmanship.

Muldowney is a teacher in Clarence and has coached for over 20 years for such organizations as Hamburg Hawks, Lake View Athletics, Hamburg Knights and the Frontier Outlaws. Colucci has been a coach with Hamburg Soccer Club and was recognized as that organization’s Volunteer of the Year for 2013. Chaffee has been a coach for the Hamburg High School Varsity Baseball and Hamburg Junior Baseball and Softball League 1OU travel baseball for more than 10 years. Damiani has worked for 15 years with the Hamburg Hawks and Hamburg Bulldogs, coaching hockey in the bantam, squirt, modified and select divisions. Thurnherr has been a coach for Hamburg Youth Bulldogs Wrestling (formerly known as South Towns Wrestling Club) for more than 10 years.

Ryan Nurmi received the Donny Thiry Human Spirit Award that is named in the memory of the late Donny Thiry, a young man who loved sports but was prevented from active participation due to physical limitations resulting from neurofibromatosis. While he was still a student at Frontier High School, his passion for sports brought him to the Town of Hamburg Recreation Department.

“He worked the scores table at the basketball games and did whatever else was needed,” said Martin Denecke, director of the town of Hamburg Department of Youth, Recreation and Senior Services. The Donny Thiry Human Spirit Award is presented to the person who best exemplifies the qualities its namesake displayed. According to fellow students at Hamburg High School, Nurmi displays these qualities.

A sledding accident four years ago caused injuries that left him disabled, but despite his physical limitations, he has been an active member of lacrosse, football and sled hockey.

The Y.E.S. teens attend school within the township at Hamburg Central, Frontier Central, Immaculata and Saint Francis high schools and contribute their time to town programs benefiting seniors, children and those with special needs, along with assisting service clubs such as the Rotary Club of Hamburg, Kiwanis Club of Hamburg and Lions Club of Hamburg.

Recognized for their volunteer efforts were: Hannah Brown, Sarah Brown, Katrina Drewiega, Sandra Nelson, Lillian Reynolds, Brandon Tomasik, Michelle Vasiloff, Jacob Walters, Elizabeth Wheeler and Abby Ziobro.

For more information about the Youth Bureau or the Department of Youth, Recreation and Senior Services, call the recreation office at 646-5145 or visit the department website at

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