Lucas Ward of Farmington, Ill. named ‘National Young Marine of the Year’

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The Young Marines youth organization announced the 2015 - 2016 National Young Marine of the Year – YM SgtMaj Lucas Ward. As National Young Marine of the Year, Ward will travel throughout the country representing and mentoring the 11,000 youth members of the Young Marines.

2015 - 2016 National Young Marine of the Year – YM SgtMaj Lucas Ward

2015 - 2016 National Young Marine of the Year – YM SgtMaj Lucas Ward

Lucas has demonstrated all of the qualities we are looking for in that one Young Marine who will serve as our ambassador in his travels around the country and interact with Young Marines, parents and adult volunteers.

The Young Marines youth organization announced the 2015 - 2016 National Young Marine of the Year – YM SgtMaj Lucas Ward, 17, of Farmington, Illinois. The Young Marines is a national non-profit youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school.

As National Young Marine of the Year, Ward will travel throughout the country representing the Young Marines. In addition, he will be a mentor for the 11,000 youth members of the organization.

Ward represented Division Five in competing with five other Division Young Marines of the Year for the title which was announced at the Adult Leaders’ Conference for Young Marines May 9, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"It took a moment to register that my name was the one that had been called," Ward said. "I was glad to know I had been chosen and proud of my fellow division winners for making it as far as they did. I almost feel badly, because they certainly deserve it just as much as I do."

“Lucas has demonstrated all of the qualities we are looking for in that one Young Marine who will serve as our ambassador in his travels around the country and interact with Young Marines, parents and adult volunteers," said Michael Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. "He is the personification of all that is good about this organization.”

Ward is a member of the Midwest Central Young Marines of Peoria, IL, under the command of John Lewis.

“Mr. Lewis was extremely proud but also humble," Ward said. "He would never take the credit, but if it weren't for him and his wife, Mrs. Lori Lewis, I certainly wouldn't be where I am. He is excited that I will have this opportunity and proud that I represent him and the unit."

"Lucas is an outstanding Young Marine," said YM SgtMaj Blake DeWeese, the 2014 National Young Marine of the Year. "I first met Lucas in 2013 when we both attended Advance Leadership School. I was blown away with his poise and stature. He looks out for all under his care and genuinely feels for everyone. The first thing he did when announced as 2015-2016 National Young Marine of the Year was hug the other five division winners. I have all the confidence in the world Lucas will do an amazing job representing the Young Marines program."

Ward joined the Young Marines at age 11 and currently, he's in his sixth year in the program. He was the honor graduate from his recruit class, and he was awarded the Personal Achievement award for Division Five for his performance as a Young Marines staff member at the Division Five academy. He is the color sergeant for the unit’s color guard.

He credits the Young Marines for encouraging him to be more outgoing and confident.

“The program has changed my life in a fantastic way, and it has the power to do that for many others as well," Ward said. "I want as many people as possible to see the true breadth of what the program is and how it can change the lives of young people for the better."

Besides his participation in the Young Marines, Ward is a junior at Farmington Central High School where he's involved in track, Marching Band (as the drum major), concert band, pep band, Key Club (a community service organization), Spanish Club, Drama Club and yearly theatrical productions. In addition, he participates in the Science Olympiad, Students With Advocacy Training (SWAT), and Operation Teen Safe Driving (OTSD).

Ward also works two jobs: as a page at the Farmington Area Public Library District and as a stocker at a local grocery store.

After he completes high school, Ward would like to attend a college with NROTC, getting a degree in criminal justice. After school, he plans to join the Marine Corps through ROTC and be a military police officer.

“I have no doubt that the Young Marines is helping me with these goals,” Ward said. “The program helps instill many qualities, such as leadership and discipline, which will greatly benefit me in the military. It also has helped me to build a resume that will hopefully be quite impressive to college administrators.”

Ward is the son of Lisa and David Ward. He has two sisters and one brother.

"When my parents heard the announcement, they were extremely happy and proud, as I think most parents would be," Ward said. "My step-mother was brought to tears, and my dad wouldn't stop hugging me."

The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c(3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline, so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 300 units with 11,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Germany, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries.

For more information, visit the official website at: http://www.YoungMarines.com.

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