Justin Carr’s Dare to Dream Workshops and Black Leadership, Awareness and Culture Club will hold the first ever jog-a-thon Friday honoring Justin Carr ’14 to raise money for the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation.
The Foundation, started by Carr’s parents after his death in 2013, will use the money to fund scholarships, arts programs and grants as well as heart screenings in order to increase their availability.
The event will be held on the track directly before the fourth annual Justin Carr Swim Relay meet. Heart screenings will be also offered by the Student Athlete Fitness Evaluation organization at the meet for the first time in the meet’s history in order to combat circumstances similar to Carr’s, who died from an undiagnosed heart condition.
Carr’s father Darrell Carr initially came up with the idea of a peace march on the track held by BLACC on the day of the annual meet to follow up last year’s MLK Tribute in Song event.
“Music of the historical times during the civil rights movement supported the narration by Helen Singleton (who was a Freedom Rider),” Carr’s mother Susan Carr said. “It was powerful. I thought after why not do something in a smaller scale to support what the world needs now more than ever- peace, dialogue, inclusion?”
Eventually, the idea evolved into a jog-a-thon.
“I took the idea Mr. Carr had to [Upper School Dean Chris Jones] after a BLACC meeting, and we both thought it was a little too unfocused to try to bring to the school so we had a meeting later,” Justin Carr’s Dare to Dream Workshops leader and BLACC member Courtney Nunley ’17 said, adding that the meeting also included BLACC leaders Taylor Jones ’18 and Phaedra Robinson ’17. “We eventually came to the general idea of a jog-a-thon and to have the proceeds go to the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation.”
To raise the money, attendees are encouraged to reach out to others to sponsor their laps via checks, which will be collected directly prior to the jog-a-thon. Individuals may also donate to the foundation directly by making out checks to the Pasadena Community Foundation and indicating that their donation is for the Justin Carr Memorial Fund. Students will also receive an hour of community service credit for participating, and the Parents of African-American Harvard-Westlake Students association will be serving ice cream to all participants. Even if students do not want to run, Susan Carr still urges them to participate.
“We are grateful that Justin’s legacy will continue in the days and years to come at HW,” Carr said. “This event will bring people together. They can talk as they walk or run. Martin Luther King said, ‘If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk than crawl. if you can’t crawl just move.'”
In addition to raising money, the event also aims to raise awareness about idiopathic cardiomyopathy, the condition from which Carr suffered.
“[The jog-a-thon] is mainly to support the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation with this fundraiser to raise not only money but awareness about getting your heart checked to prevent the loss of life similar to the late Justin Carr’s condition,” Justin Carr’s Dare to Dream Workshops and BLACC leader Daniel Varela ’18 said.
Varela said he is confident that Justin Carr’s Dare to Dream Workshops and BLACC will continue to host the event in the future.
“I hope that this definitely becomes one of the traditions Harvard-Westlake adopts, because it serves our efforts to strive to give back and to help our community effectively,” Varela said. “This event can annually make an impact for the Foundation’s financial growth, ability to deliver their services to a greater population, and to simply spread awareness about Justin and his hope that we can achieve World Peace with acts of kindness like this event.”
Nunley also said she has high hopes for the future of the event and that she would like to see the jog-a-thon expand to incorporate some of the original ideas that were dropped in the planning stages of this year’s function.
“There are so many things I hope can happen in future years,” Nunley said. “We were going to make a video of [BLACC and Dare to Dream] members about the importance of the jog-a-thon and what Justin meant to us to show at assembly. We also wanted to make cool posters for this around campus and reach out to some BLACC members who are artists to do the artwork for them. I think that would’ve been amazing and it’s a great way to bring some well deserved attention to these two clubs so hopefully that can happen in the future.”
Other ideas include playing a playlist of Carr’s favorite songs, opening the event to the other schools participating in the meet and beginning to advertise the event earlier in the year.
“I think it’s really important to keep up Justin’s spirit alive in whatever we do,” Nunley said. “He could instantly brighten someone’s day because he always had this huge smile that could fill the room […] I know that a lot of people here are unfortunately too young to have known him. So I hope that we can continue to make Justin’s presence and significance just as great today as it was a few years ago by continuing to be kind, peaceful, loving, passionate, full of life people like he was.”