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The air was electric with excitement as Khadijha Berry walked across the Byham Theater stage to accept her SHYNE Overcoming Obstacles Award.

“Thanks to my mom and my friends and thanks to the Lord for helping me through this,” said a tearful Berry to the audience that gave her a standing ovation.

The SHYNE Awards were started by Orlana Darkins Drewery and her husband, Darnell, in 2006 as a way to highlight the positive achievements of teenagers in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.

Young Adult Group

“The SHYNE Awards was created because young adults between the ages of 13-19 are statistically the most likely to be affected by negative or criminal activity. We cannot ignore statistics, however, we can do something about it. That’s why we wanted to provide a public platform that announced and celebrated what young people in Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities are doing to make a difference in their communities and become effective agents of social change,” Darkins said.

Berry lost her younger sister and brother in a car accident early in 2005. Berry said the car didn’t have good brakes, which was the cause of the accident.

“It took the ambulance 25 minutes to get to us and my brother died at the hospital five hours after the accident and my sister died eight hours after the accident,” she recalled.

By God’s grace, Berry and her mother survived.

Instead of wondering why she was spared, Berry, 16, who lives in Homewood, began to try and find her purpose in life.

She began volunteering at the Animal Rescue League.

“I love animals. I have three dogs. I rescued one of them,” says Berry who hopes to become a veterinarian. “When you are feeling down, you have to realize that you can’t think about those things. I know I can’t give up. I have a few friends who tell me to be strong and I encourage myself to be strong and enjoy my life. I know God left me here for a reason.”

One reason may have been to accept the SHYNE Award for Overcoming Obstacles.

The fourth annual SHYNE Award was hosted by model, actress and businesswoman LisaRaye.

LisaRaye made a splash on the silver screen in the Ice Cube-directed and produced “The Player’s Club.” She played the role of Diamond, a troubled stripper.

Soon after, the beautiful actress was cast in “The Wood,” “Civil Brand,” the Barry Levinson comedy, “Envy” and the female western, “Gang of Roses.”

She landed the role of Neesee James in the Will and Jada Pinkett Smith-penned show, “All of Us” opposite Duane Martin. Currently she is starring in her own reality show on TV One called “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy.” She also created a self-esteem-driven teen pageant called Miss RayeDiant Jewels Teen Pageant.

LisaRaye was overwhelmed with the SHYNE Awards and the caliber of talent that The Golden Triangle had to offer.

“This is a much-needed event because young people need to know that they are doing the right thing,” LisaRaye said. “For all the haters out there, forget them because this (doing the right thing) is why you are shining. These kids make me have chill bumps. I did not have this when I was growing up.”

In addition to Berry, Other SHYNE Award winners included Yolanda Nelson, Jasmine Thompson and Courtney Robinson, owners of Angel Treats, a chocolate shop in Duquesne. The teens won the SHYNE Award for Entrepreneurship.

Jazmine Bailey won the SHYNE Award for Arts.

“Winning a SHYNE Award is an amazing blessing,” said Bailey 18. She will attend Eastern University in Philadelphia to study dance.

Tim Stevens, chairman of Black Political Empowerment Project was presented with the Gwendolyn J. Elliot Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition to LisaRaye, singer, songwriter and producer, Universal recording artist Newland served as the red carpet correspondent at the start of the SHYNE Awards. Newland delivered a high-powered performance of his single “Pillow,” the first single from his forthcoming self-titled album to close the show.

“Everyone needs to know about these awards,”LisaRaye said. “I didn’t know what I was getting into when I signed on for this. I didn’t know I would be standing in a room filled with these great beautiful Black folks who are helping youth.”

SHYNE AWARD WINNERS: Overcoming Obstacles Award: Khadijha Berry; Academics Award: Chelsey Lowe; Arts Award: Jazmine Bailey; Community Service Award: Rachel Tobin; Entrepreneurship Award: Angel’s Treat’s members Yolanda Nelson, Jasmine Thompson and Courtney Robinson. Service In Ministry Award: Moriah Brock; Young Adult Group Award: Braddock Youth Project; Movement Award: Jesus Anoints Me; Gwendolyn J. Elliott Lifetime Achievement Award: Tim Stevens.

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