NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH — What started as a school project has become a welcome addition to Joey Grant’s life.
As a senior at Topsail High School in 2012, Grant organized a charity surfing tournament as a service project. Grant has a friend with multiple sclerosis and wanted to donate to the MS Society. He expected it to be a one-time thing, but two years later it’s still going on — and growing.
“We’re probably looking at twice as many people as last year,” Grant said. “Every year, more and more people get involved with it. We’ve had twice as many sponsors this year. The first year I was kind of surprised it was as big as it was because we didn’t advertise for it. But it was so much fun, and I was told to consider doing it again. I didn’t expect it to be recurring.”
Grant, now a student at Cape Fear Community College, donated $900 in 2012 and almost tripled that amount in 2013. He hopes to crack $3,000 with this year’s tournament, which concludes today at North Topsail Beach. After the number of participants hovered close to 20 for the past two years, Grant expected as many as 50.
Learning to produce an event has been the tricky part for the 21-year-old. He’s surfed since a young age, so he had a basic idea of how a tournament ran. But he didn’t have any other point of reference for how to organize it.
“Man, it’s tough,” Grant said. “It’s as fun as it is tough. There are so many people I’ve got to talk to, but if you’re doing something for a good cause, just about anybody will get behind you.”
Grant enlists the help of family members to run the event. He and his mother, Jean Pollard, do most of the promoting. George Hartner, a local musician, is in charge of live music. Grant also has family come from out of town to volunteer.
Pollard said they figure out a little more each year about how to make the event run smooth.
“We’re learning as we go,” Pollard said. “The first year, some friends of ours mentored Joey on the surf competition because they had done some fundraising stuff. Each year, we just gain a little more knowledge.”
Grant, an Eagle Scout, has long enjoyed community service. He was constantly doing projects growing up, and his love of surfing made the decision easy when it came to choosing an event. He’s thankful for the community support he’s received and hopes the event can keep growing.
“I kind of felt like I wanted to get back into (community service) but do my own event,” Grant said. “This is just normal for me. I like doing it, and my family loves doing it.”