When Century High School junior Jarrett Justice decided to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization dedicated to helping injured military veterans, he never expected to surpass his goal of $5,000.
As of Wednesday, Justice had raised about $11,000 for the cause.
On Saturday, about 50 students in grades 9-12 will be split up into four teams to participate in a two-hand-touch, coed football tournament fundraiser at Century. Participation is limited to Century students, Justice said, but the event is open to the public to watch.
Justice, 17, said his goal is to raise money and increase awareness about the Wounded Warrior Project while also increasing student engagement in community service.
He first volunteered for the Wounded Warrior Project at Fort McHenry in Baltimore over the summer when he was 15, he said. He is now a student ambassador for the organization.
"Military members and their families go to serve their country every day, and unfortunately they don't always come back the way they left," Justice said. "I feel like helping those who do so much for us. They should be recognized and supported by the community."
Each player participating in Saturday's touch football game was required to raise a minimum of $20 for the Wounded Warrior Project and will receive community service hours required for high school graduation, Justice said. To add to the fun, students will receive prizes at the end of the football game, he said. They will be clad in jerseys that read, "Tournament of Champions," the name of the event.
Justice, who has dreamed of attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis since he was "a little kid," decided to organize the fundraiser after attending a Naval Academy enrollment seminar last fall, which focused on the importance of leadership, said his mother, Sharon Justice.
According to a U.S. News and World Report profile, the academy had a 7.4 percent acceptance rate in fall 2013. Students, or Midshipmen, have their tuition fully funded by the U.S. Navy, with a requirement that they serve active duty in the military after graduation.
To attend the school, Justice has to stand out from other applicants, his mother said.
That dream required him to maintain a high grade point average, take Advanced Placement classes, play sports and get involved in extracurricular activities.
"When he was little, he was the only one sitting at the bus stop reading a book," Sharon Justice said. "We're so proud of him, and myself and his father will do whatever we can to help him achieve his goal."
Since the beginning of the school year, Jarrett Justice has spent 70 hours organizing the event, he said. That has meant juggling school work with being a student-athlete. Justice is a member of the school's varsity football team.
Justice has learned how to balance a full schedule. Putting the fundraiser together also helped him develop leadership skills. For example, he had to ask businesses to sponsor the event.
"It's helped me learn how to talk to people because I had to call people to raise money," Justice said.
Justice said holding a football game for the fundraiser was a natural choice because he likes to play football.
"We originally tried to hold it during football season, but it was too complicated," Justice said, noting that reserving field space was difficult at that time.
Although Justice has helped organize other events in the past, he's never done something of this magnitude before.
Those who want to donate can do so until April 17 by making a check out to Century High School, Sharon Justice said.
"It's for a good cause plus it's a way to help him get to the Naval Academy," Sharon Justice said.
Carroll County Breaking News
If you go
What: "Tournament of Champions" fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project
Where: Century High School, 355 Ronsdale Road, Eldersburg
When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 11
Cost: free, open to the public