High schooler organizes pop-up drive-in theater at Town Center to raise money for children’s hospital

Adarsh Aratikatla helped organize a drive-in move fundraiser to benefit Wolfson Children's Hospital.
Adarsh Aratikatla helped organize a drive-in move fundraiser to benefit Wolfson Children's Hospital. (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Looking for a safe way to raise money to support healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Adarsh Aratikatla along with classmate Javier Neret came up with the idea of using a drive-in movie theater to help Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

After months of planning, Aratikatla, an incoming senior at the Bolles School and co-founder of the Wolfson Children’s Hospital Club, is planning to host the first movie showing in an empty parking lot at The Markets at Town Center.

The event was scheduled for Friday, but due to weather, it was rescheduled for June 5 -- next Friday.

“I wanted to have an event where I could see my friends and everyone could be together but we’re still staying safe,” Aratikatla said. “I think this will be a fun event where people can bring their families and also you can watch a movie. None of the movie theaters are open right now so it’ll be a fun experience.”

The group plans to show “Back to the Future” to about 60 people who donated nearly $800 to Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“We chose Wolfson because honestly we just love their message and the fact that they’re helping children, sometimes free of cost, just because their families couldn’t afford it," said Aratikatla, who plans to be a doctor one day. “I think that’s like super important especially now since a lot of families, like the breadwinner of the families, they’re being laid off.”

Aratikatla said he hopes to make the event a regular occurrence over the summer and show movies every weekend until movie theaters reopen. The group plans to show classic movies like “Goonies” and “Ferris Buller’s Day Off.”

The group is not selling tickets for the events, but they are asking for free-will donations.

“I didn’t really want to set a ticket price because I wanted people to be able to come even if they couldn’t really afford it,” Aratikatla said. “People can donate like $1, people can donate $100, it’s as much as they want to.”

The money will go to the Child Life fund at the hospital.

The venue opens at 6 p.m., and the movie begins at 8:30 p.m.

Anyone who wants more information can email the group at JaxDriveIn@gmail.com.

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