Air National Guard names 2010 Youth of the Year

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The senior at Highland School of Technology, along with 10 other Air Force Youths of the Year winners will be flown to Washington, D.C., to attend a ceremony and teen forum at the Pentagon.

Dakota also has an older brother, Staff Sgt. Chris Johnson, who is also a member of the North Carolina Air National Guard.

Guard officials said Dakota consistently demonstrates both leadership and service at home, at school and in the community. He is very active in sports, church, and community service, while juggling a very rigorous school schedule and still maintains the top ranking in a class of 139 students.

Dakota also volunteers through Union Road Church of God's Soup Kitchen and through the Salvation Army, where he prepares and serves meals to the homeless and needy of Gaston County. This summer, Dakota will embark on his first mission trip to Jamaica to work with churches of Montego Bay Area and at the Blossom Garden Orphanage.

As a member of the Health Occupations Students of America organization for three years, he recently placed in the top 10 at the HOSA State competition for his work in creating a book about childhood diabetes and presenting it to preschoolers around Gaston County.

Since 2007, Dakota has served with NCANG's "Operation Santa Claus" in providing Christmas presents for underprivileged children in surrounding areas. He has also served with Special Olympics through both his high school and the North Carolina Air Guard and served as a camp counselor and team member with Camp Sertoma, a five-week summer camp for mentally handicapped children and adults.

"[We are] always looking for ladies and gentlemen that have great personalities, are team players, have leadership qualities, are dependable and dedicated. I believe Dakota possesses all of these qualities," said Janet McGee, Camp Sertoma's executive director.

Dakota's parents say they are extremely proud of him and all of his outstanding accomplishments.

After high school, Dakota plans to follow in his parent's "bootsteps" by joining the North Carolina Air Guard and attending the University of North Carolina to become a physician.

Air National Guard names 2010 Youth of the Year [ ]