A teenager from Jackson is taking on an ambitious project - raising money to build a memorial for Jackson County police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
"What inspired me to do this project was I'd like to be a firefighter when I grow up," said 16-year-old Timothy Johnson. "I have a lot of family in law enforcement and so that's what kind of inspired me to do this."
The memorial will have two large slabs of marble: one for law enforcement and one for firefighters. The names of those killed in the line of duty in Jackson County, dating back to 1914, will be inscribed on each. In the process of getting the memorial built, Johnson hopes to become an Eagle Scout. It's the highest honor a boy scout can earn, and something Johnson has been dreaming about since he joined the scouts in 2nd grade.
"It's a really honorable thing to become an Eagle Scout," Johnson explained. "Not many people get to have that honor. I thought it would be cool."
In addition to earning at least 21 different merit badges, Johnson must complete an extensive service project for his community to qualify. He chose to build the memorial for fallen law enforcement and firefighters, but he's going to have to $10,000 to get it done - not an easy task for a teenager.
"My initial thought was, 'Boy, that's a pretty big project for a young man,'" said Jackson Police Chief Matthew Heins. "But I'm excited to see that he set his goals high, and I think it will be a great contribution to the community for people to come down and spend time at the memorial and remember their loved ones."
The Jackson City Council unanimously approved Johnson's proposal in May. So far, he's raised about $1,200 and hopes to reach the $10,000 mark by this time next year.
"I think when this is all said and done, it's will be a really nice addition for the park," said Johnson.
And it will be a place for the for the community to pay their respects to those who paid the ultimate price, those Johnson simply calls heroes.
Anyone interested in helping Johnson reach his goal can send donations to the Jackson City Parks and Rec Department. For more information, search for Johnson's Facebook page - "Police and Fire Memorial Monuments in Jackson Michigan."