A youth football team on Chicago’s South Side is going to showcase its skills on the national stage after a fundraiser generated nearly $16,000 to help send them to the Hall of Fame World Youth Championship.
The Back of the Yards Buccaneers football team won the 12-and-under state championship earlier this year, but were concerned that they wouldn’t have enough funds to help send them to the national championship in Canton, Ohio, site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A group of parents launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for travel expenses for the players and coaches, with a goal of $12,000.
Over 200 people have pitched in so far, raising nearly $16,000 in just a matter of days.
“It’s surreal,” Louis Arnold, a player for the Buccaneers, said. “It’s so crazy.”
The team’s coaching staff is grateful too, knowing that an opportunity like this can end up out of reach for a lot of teams.
“It’s tough. Most of these kids come from low income and single parent homes, so we didn’t know what to do,” head coach Randy Herring said.
The tsunami of donations surprised many of the parents involved with the team, including Emilio Alvarez.
“It’s kind of jawdropping,” he said. “It kind of shows how much people care about us.”
Now, the kids who are dreaming of someday turning pro will get to play a game in the shadow of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and everyone involved is grateful to the community for their support.
“People are so generous and when we told the kids, it was like wow!” Darryl Young, an assistant coach for the Buccaneers, said.