Touching lives at every turn. That is what Cecelie Owens does for a living. And she wouldn't want it any other way.
And that's why the principal of West Hertel Academy in Buffalo was among four women nationwide honored by Toyota in Newport Beach, California this week as an "Everyday Hero." The award celebrates people who use sports to make a difference for women and girls in their communities.
Owens founded the G.I.R.L.S. Sports Foundation, a not-for-profit that promotes academics, self-confidence, healthy lifestyles and team work for girls ages 4 to 18 through mentoring and sports. G.I.R.L.S. stands for Goals, Integrity, Respect, Leadership and Sports.
Toyota surprised Owens and the other recipients with $10,000 for their respective foundations.
"I've played basketball all my life," Owens said in a video highlighting her work in the community. "It's not about basketball. It's beyond basketball. It's about being a positive role model for these young ladies in Buffalo and Western New York. I am these girls. That's how the G.I.R.L.S. Sports Foundation came about."
Owens said the money will help her start a summer sports camp in the heart of Buffalo, providing a mix of mentoring and athletics.
"To be recognized as a Toyota Everyday Hero is confirmation that we still need to do what we're doing," she said.