Thomas Jurica, the recipient of the Adams Award for 2014, chose to do a very personal project. Following the loss of his close friend, George Belton, Thomas decided to build a playground as a lasting legacy in his memory. He and his volunteers constructed St. George Playground at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Houston.
The Eagle Project is a memorial to his close friend and fellow Troop 99 Boy Scout, George Belton. George was killed in an ATV accident in April 2012, about the time Thomas was starting to plan his project. Thomas decided to dedicate the project in memory of George and to do it at George’s church - Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
The original proposal was for a commercial playground would cost $7,000.00. That was a lot of money for an Eagle project and Thomas had no idea if he would be able to raise that much money. An organization from Holy Rosary church heard about the proposed playground and pledged $6,000. So, Thomas revised his plan to have professional playground equipment rather than just “Little Tikes.”
The response to the memorial playground was overwhelmingly-positive. Thomas collected donations of $12,000 in just a few weeks. The playground plans were revised again to have an even larger playground with more equipment. Thomas also did fundraising at Holy Rosary, and as the donations continued, the playground continued to be improved and enlarged. By the end, almost $29,000 was donated and a final playground plan was made.
The playground was installed over an eight day period with the playground equipment first, by professional installers. Then Troop 99 began installation of the rest of the playground. They cleared the area, put in a liner, and a border.
On the last day of the project, the Boy Scouts, Scouters, parents, and friends moved and spread the 80 cubic yards of mulch, using wheelbarrows, shovels, and rakes. The playground area was 42 feet x 46 feet. In all, 43 Scouts, Scouters, and other volunteers helped with the building of the playground.
A memorial bronze plaque was installed next to the playground. The playground was dedicated and blessed by the pastor of Holy Rosary, in June of 2013 in a ceremony attended by members of Holy Rosary Church, St Thomas More Church, and Troop 99. The playground was named St. George Playground – after the Patron saint of Boy Scouts and the patron saint of George Belton. What started out as a small playground with “Little Tikes” equipment grew into a large playground with professional equipment which covered all of the available space. From start to finish, the project took over 400 hours. Thomas gave thanks to God, to all the generous supporters, and his Troop who made the St. George Playground possible.