By Matt Kroschel

SALIDA, Colo. (CBS4)– A teen from Salida is making a huge mark on the little mountain town. Now she is getting recognized for all her hard work.

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When Athena Kintgen’s family moved to the small mountain town of Salida from the Midwest, she knew this was going to be the start of something good.

What Kintgen didn’t realize is the move and what has transpired over the last few years would land her on a national stage accepting awards and being named the Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs in Colorado.

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Hundreds of kids come to the Boys and Girls Club in Salida to find friendship and belonging. It wasn’t so long ago Kintgen was a student here, and now she is the teacher.

“I am slowly going deaf and decided I would make the best of this, learned American Sign Language and now I teach it to other kids here,” she told CBS4’s Matt Kroschel.

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It is just one of the many places she works to help out her community. She says this is a great way to connect with younger kids on a real level.

“One way to help retain information is to teach it, that was one reason I did it. I just wanted to share with everyone else because it was something that changed my life,” she said.

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Her journey and humble, giving heart landed her with the honor of being selected Colorado’s Youth of the Year- by the Boys and Girls Clubs in Colorado.

She has also beat out young folks from other states to win regional honors and could be named the national winner.

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“In my 30 years she has risen above the top 1% of all the kids I’ve ever seen,” Brian Beaulieu executive director BGC said.

Sometimes that special person comes along and leaves a lasting impression.

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“She is at the pinnacle and continues to push it beyond what we ever thought anyone could do,” he added.

It’s a small town success story. Now Kintgen will head to Washington, DC later this month to compete to be named the National Youth of the Year recipient.

Matt Kroschel


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