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Five to be honored at annual  Phenomenal Man Awards

Boys 2 Men phenomenal man year: IgnaciCervantes

Boys 2 Men phenomenal man of the year: Ignacia Cervantes

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Updated: March 1, 2013 7:33PM

AURORA — Five young men — including an East Aurora School Board member and the son of East Aurora schools spokesman Clayton Muhammad — will be honored at the sixth annual Phenomenal Man Awards program by the Boys II Men mentoring group.

The awards ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Gaslite Manor.

Those who will be honored at the event are:

Raul Buendia — A U.S. Army veteran and Aurora University graduate, Buendia is a financial counselor to middle- and low-income families.

Ignacio Cervantes — A junior at Aurora University, Cervantes is the youngest-ever East Aurora School Board member.

Jared Marchiando — The first president of Boys II Men, Marchiando was the 2006 valedictorian at East Aurora High School and is a University of Illinois graduate.

Marc McMillan — A high school teacher from Mobile, Ala., McMillan is a 2012 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Tuskegee University.

Je’Todd Smith — A 2005 graduate of West Aurora High School and graduate of Michigan State University, Smith is now a college admissions advisor.

The award recipients were chosen by current Boys II Men members, Muhammad said.

Besides being the East Aurora spokesman, Muhammad is the founder of Boys III Men, which works to help young people become community leaders in the future.

Thursday night will be an especially proud moment for Muhammad, who is Marchiando’s adoptive father. While he was in his early 20s, Muhammad adopted two sons.

Writing out his son’s biography for the awards’ program “was one of those surreal moments,” Muhammad said.

“This young man that I literally watched grow up has become established in his career and a man of his own truth,” he said.

Guest speakers Thursday night will include Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas and Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez. Muhammad said that more than 700 people have RSVPed to attend the event.

In addition to the Phenomenal Man awards, more than 100 high school and college students will be honored for their achievements in academic excellence and service.

Boys II Men member Kyle Welton, 19, will also perform a song he wrote in honor of Boys II Men’s 10th anniversary; the song is called “We are Phenomenal.”

Welton is a 2011 graduate of Waubonsie Valley High School.

Welton said that after seeing a YouTube video of Muhammad’s godfather, former East Aurora Superintendent Charles Ponquinette, surprising him at a West Aurora School Board meeting this month, he knew he wanted to do something special for Muhammad.

“After I saw that on Facebook, I was really inspired to write the song,” Welton said. “I had been telling Clayton for two years that I’d write him a song for all he’s done for me.”

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