An Alma High School student and musician has been chosen as the 2018 Boys and Girls Club of the Alma Area youth of the year.

Ezekiel “Zeik” Gregory, 17, was named the club’s youth of the year in February by the Boys and Girls Club of the Alma Area Board of Directors. He is the son of Cheryl and Lee Gregory of Mountainburg.

Zeik Gregory represented the Alma club at the 2018 Arkansas Youth of the Year Summit in Little Rock last week. He traveled to the summit with Boys and Girls Club of the Alma Area Chief Executive Officer Elaina Damante and club staff member Jacob Wells.

“We are so thankful to have such a remarkable, accomplished and compassionate youth of the year to represent the Alma area,” Damante said.

On March 13, Gregory and other youths of the year were able to tour the Capitol, meet with area legislators, have their photos taken with Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and take part in a charity basketball game. Competitive interviews and speeches were March 14.

Gregory has had to overcome a great deal in his life, he said, including bullying. He also was pressured to play football, when his true passion is music, he said.

“You might assume that a tall, heavy-set guy like me would love to play football, but you would be wrong,” Gregory said. “Quitting football was especially hard because no one wanted me to quit besides me. But I did it because I love myself enough to put my passion for music first.”

Music has become a defining factor in his life, Gregory said, and he often turns to music to deal with other issues in his life. Gregory started a music program at the Alma club to share his passion with younger children dealing with similar issues, he said.

“As a senior member of the high school band I am able to teach beginners more about their instrument, entry level music theory and most importantly that it is amazing to have a passion for music,” Gregory said. “I am giving these young adults a safe spot to learn more about music and all its benefits.”

Gregory was named an Outstanding Musician in the school band from 2015-2018, and has received music-based scholarships to help him pay for college at the University of Central Arkansas, where he plans to major in music.

He also is a member of DECA and has place third in state competitions, and has volunteered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Socktober, which donates socks to the homeless, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

As a YOY representative, Gregory hopes to “exemplify what a successful young adult should act like,” “show struggling kids that they can prevail with hard work” and “be an advocate for each generation.”

Gregory was chosen as the youth of the year for the Alma club from “five outstanding candidates,” Damante said. The other four candidates were Chandler Champion, Brandi Shearburn, Grace Murphy and Madison Holloway.

“Zeik has a tremendous heart and passion for both music and the club, but any one of the five candidates would have been an excellent choice,” Damante said. “I would be proud to have any of them representing us.”

Gregory will be recognized at the 2018 Boys & Girls Club of the Alma Area Great Futures Youth of the Year Recognition Dinner on April 5. The dinner will be held at 6 p.m. at the Alma club at 410 East Main Street.

Guests to the event will be served a meal from a local eatery, and hear a special message from Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin. The other four YOY candidates also will give brief speeches.

There is no cost to attend the dinner, but table and event sponsorships are available. Email taniah@almabgc to sponsor the event or RSVP.