RICHMOND (CBS 5) – Have you ever noticed the empty seats at sporting events that are supposedly sold out? This week’s Jefferson Award winner did, and it gave him an idea.

Whether he’s on the football field, or in the bleachers at the Oakland Coliseum, 17-year-old Jack Chabolla has been to a lot of sporting events.

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“I saw that there were empty seats, but they were saying that the whole stadium was sold out,” he reported.

And just like that, it hit him – why not resell those unused tickets to raise money for charity?

“I knew that companies or just people with season tickets buy up these seats and they just don’t go to them sometimes,” Chabolla said. “I realized that these wasted tickets could bring such better benefit to people.”

So last year Jack, a senior at Monte Vista High in Danville, launched his own non profit: “Tickets to College,” supporting kids who share his dream of higher education, but who don’t get the same opportunities as he and his classmates get. All of his proceeds go to the College is Real program at Richmond High School.

“College is Real mentors the Richmond High School students.” Chabolla explained. “It’s hard for them to even go through high school day-to-day with the struggles they have – and that just really touched me because here, living in Danville, we almost get all the support we need.”

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College is Real founder Brad Blake said the teenager’s support of the program goes a long way.

“We provide resources, motivation, guidance, counseling, and tutoring to high school kids at Richmond High, mostly Latino, and all low income, to try and get them to be the first in their families to attend college,” Blake said. “Probably five or six kids are going to be able to go to college that otherwise might not have gone.”

When Chabolla isn’t on the football field or in class, he’s often sending out emails by the hundreds to businesses or organizations asking them for their unused tickets to events. He then turns around and resells them on Stub Hub or Craigslist. He gets tickets to all kinds of events, and laughs that he’s even received a donation of tickets to the Alameda County Fair.

Chabolla created a website, and collects and delivers the tickets himself, all while still managing his senior year classes, college applications, and yes, football practice.

“It’s a lot of work,” he agreed. “I’ve loved it – just visiting Richmond and seeing how they need this support. It’s really touching how I can make a difference.”

So for helping other students reach their own college goals, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Jack Chabolla.

If you have tickets to donate to help students achieve their college dreams, connect with Tickets to College using this link.

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