Raleigh pop warner team raising money for equipment after youth center fire

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With two weeks until the first game of the season, parents of the Wilders Grove Pop Warner Football program are trying to raise money for much-needed equipment.

A June fire destroyed part of the youth center’s bathroom, concession stand and some of the equipment. 

“To add insult to injury some of our equipment was also stolen,” said mom Shontae Lashley, whose 8-year-old son plays on the team and daughter cheerleads.

The fire is still under investigation, but has been classified as incendiary, Raleigh Fire investigators say.

Coach Johnnie Rhodes say vandalism has been a problem.

“This year has been so trying.  It’s been test, after test,” he said.

Despite the setback, Rhodes and the parents want the season to continue, saying it’s about more than just football.

“This is something these kids really take pride in, and we as parents take pride in it as well. It’s something for the kids to do keep them safe, keep them out of the streets,” said Lashley.

Coach Rhodes calls the Wilders Grove community a family and says he tried to teach the players lessons on the field, that they can carry off the field with them.

“Of course we love to win, but the important thing is creating better men,” he said.

Lashley says the parents are trying to raise $5,000 to buy new helmets, pads and other gear before the first game on August 31. She says the need the equipment to compete, but also to play safely.

“This is their thing. This is what they love to do. This is their moment to shine,” said Lashley. “Why not, us as parents and the community, give them everything they need to shine?”

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