After years of trying and coming so close, the Hoffman Estates Redhawks, a 7th and 8th grade youth football team, made it to Pop Warner Nationals in Florida.
They now face another level of adversity: raising enough money to get there this weekend.
"It was one point, two points," Coach Storm Warner recalls of the team's past efforts. "Years of trying."
On Friday the northwest suburban team was victorious, earning a chance at the national championship and trip to Walt Disney World.
"I couldn't believe it," Coach Warner said. "Then realized, 'Wow, we won.' ... I knew we were going to Disney World. It's incredible."
The coach said it didn't take long for all that elation to come back down to earth.
"I know how much money we need," he said. "Lots."
This weekend the team worked as hard off the field as they do on the field, trying to raise the money to make their dream a reality.
The team established a Go Fund Me account and created a hotline -- 847-534-6238 -- where fans and supporters can donate.
They also have three days of donation drives planned: Monday night at Buffalo Wild Wings South Elgin, 402 South Randall Road in South Elgin, where 10 percent of purchases will be donated to the team; Tuesday night in the cafe at Eisenhower Jr. High, 800 S. Hassell Road in Hoffman Estates; and from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sports Arena on Hassell Road.
They're still about $20,000 short and need to have the money soon.
If they get enough money to drive to the game, the team plans to leave Thursday. If they raise enough money to fly, they will leave Friday.
The first game starts Saturday.