CHS Football Seniors ‘Tackle’ Community Issues
December 5, 2019 by Amy Patterson

Although injuries left him sidelined for his senior season of Chardon High School football, Maxamus Vujaklija still pulled off a win — but this one is for the community.

Although injuries left him sidelined for his senior season of Chardon High School football, Maxamus Vujaklija still pulled off a win — but this one is for the community.

Maxamus, along with his fellow CHS football seniors, decided this would be the year to “tackle” issues and needs in the community, so he spent four months of the football season tackling a different project — from hunger to childhood cancer.

In a school essay, Maxamus wrote about the legacy he would be leaving behind after graduating.

“For me personally, this football season has been riddled with injuries that I have had to battle and it’s been very difficult at times, but I’ve learned a lot from it,” Maxamus wrote. “My battles are absolutely nothing compared to the battles that other people are facing daily. I started school with an excess of school supplies, my health is great, I live in an awesome house with both of my loving parents and I have more than a grocery bag of food each week to eat.”

Maxamus added his legacy is not personal stats or records, but a legacy of giving with an open heart and caring about a community that helped raise and support him and his teammates for 18 years.

Maxamus’ mother, Kim, said she has known this group of players since they were 6 years old, and her husband, Rob, linebacker coach at the high school, has been privileged to watch them grow as a coach. Over the summer, the kids got together for a dinner at the Vujaklija house, where they planned a way to make an impact on the community and decided on the service projects to undertake, Kim said.

She said the project is entirely student-led and Maxamus’ hope is that every year, the seniors will huddle together each month of the season to tackle community issues and problems like he and his friends have done this season.

In August — quarter one — the group donated over $800 worth of school supplies for the Geauga County Job and Family Services school supplies drive.

For quarter two, in September, the group donated $2,200 towards Project Outrun, an event held in early November at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital that gave pediatric cancer patients the chance to design custom Nike ID shoes to allow them to “outrun” cancer.

At that event, Project Outrun Founder Andy Shepperd asked Kim what the boys were calling their community service project. The group talked it over and decided on “Tackle.”

The third-quarter project was a donation of over $1,400 in gift cards for area restaurants and shops to Geauga JFS, specifically to support the foster care program. The gift cards were presented Nov. 21.

One of the group members told JFS employees his parents had fostered and recently adopted a child, and the experience opened his eyes to the realities of life for children in the foster program.

Gina Schultz, social services director at Geauga JFS, thanked the players and said the gift cards, which were donated by other football team members, will give caseworkers a chance to give kids in residential care incentives other kids sometimes take for granted.

She also thanked the young men for being kind to people who are struggling.

“You don’t know what battles people are fighting,” Schultz said. “You have no idea what someone is going through, what they went through just to get to school that morning.”


CORRECTION: Incorrect information appeared in the subhead and caption of a preview photo for this story in the Nov. 26 Geauga County Maple Leaf. Chardon High School senior John Dinko is pictured second from right, and the team’s third-quarter project was a donation to Geauga County Job and Family Services’ foster care program.