Two Lexington filmmakers are hoping to make a movie about Jarrett Mynear, the 13-year-old boy who, before he died of cancer, inspired others with his giving spirit.
Jarrett, who died in 2002, created Jarrett's Joy Cart, a traveling gift cart that continues to bring toys, books and games to children at Kentucky Children's Hospital. He also inspired the DanceBlue marathon, put on by University of Kentucky students. The fundraising project has raised more than $3.5 million for the hospital.
"We wanted to tell a story that was inspirational," said Jeff Day, who with partner Tom Lockridge makes up Lucky Day Productions.
The duo have started a Kickstarter campaign (go to Kickstarter.com and search for Joy Cart to find the project) to raise $75,000 in seed money for the movie, which they hope to film in Central Kentucky. The project has a total budget of about $500,000. It will be a community effort, they said, with 46 parts to cast and the need for hundreds of extras to recreate DanceBlue for the film. If all goes well, it could be screened next year.
Lucky Day has been in talks with industry insiders, Lockridge said, and he is hopeful of some kind of release on a network. There's international interest, too, because "Jarrett's story is universal," he said.
Kickstarter is an online fundraising website for art projects. Someone posts an idea for a project, the project's budget and a deadline to raise the money. Lucky Day's deadline for the Joy Cart movie is May 23. They've raised about $11,000. If they don't raise the full amount, those who have pledged receive a refund.
Jarrett's mom, Jennifer Mynear, wheels Jarrett's Joy Cart through the hospital hallways on a regular basis. She agreed to work with Lucky Day because the movie will not be "a sick kid story," she said. Instead, it will focus on the good that grew from Jarrett's acts of kindness.
He gave of himself, she said, even while he suffered serious complications from cancer. Jarrett's message was that there is always a way to help others. During his life, she said, he received thousands of cards and email messages from all over the world and appeared on The Rosie O'Donnell Show.
"His attitude was such that he would overcome his challenges," Day said. "He was going to make things better for other people no matter what."
"What is so great about this story is that his legacy has grown into DanceBlue," Lockridge said. "It's become a huge thing."
This is the second film project for Day, an Asbury College professor, and Lockridge, a commonwealth's attorney. Their first effort, Unrequited, a psychological thriller, is being distributed on DVD by Lionsgate.
Jennifer Mynear said it might be difficult to see her son's story on the screen, but she trusts Lockridge and Day to do right by her son. The Mynear family reviewed the script to make sure it was true to life. Day said he hopes a movie can amplify the passion that Jarrett inspired in his short life.
"I want people to get out of their seat and go do something for somebody else," he said.
Lockridge said one of the first things people need to do is offer some tangible support for the project.
"We really need people to not just give us encouragement," he said. "They need to get on Kickstarter."