A northwest suburban high school wrestling team says their gear was stolen while they ate at a restaurant on their way home from a two-day holiday tournament.
The South Elgin Varsity Team had traveled to a two-day Granite City Holiday Tournament near St. Louis.
On their way home Friday, the team stopped at an Applebee’s for “a well-deserved meal,” one parent wrote.
But when they returned to the team van, they discovered it had been broken into and much of their gear taken.
"At first we thought it was a prank by one of the coaches," said junior wrestler Bobby Tornabene. "Then we realized it wasn't a joke."
That's when the team discovered much of their brand new gear had been taken.
“You name it - singlets, brand new warm ups, head gear, wrestling shoes, wrestling bags, some personal items like Beats head phones, a few wallets and cell phones,” Alex Lopez, a parent of one of the wrestlers, wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to help the team after the incident. “I am sick to my stomach just thinking about it.”
The GoFundMe page aims to raise $10,000 to help replace the boys’ gear. As of Monday evening, $3,685 had been raised.
"These were bags the kids purchased just this year," said parent Robert Tornabene. "Had wrestling names on them, personal clothes and possessions. Probably each boy is out $500."
The students had fundraised throughout the year to buy the new gear. Many spent practice Monday without shoes, students said.
In total, they estimate about $5,000 worth of items were stolen, much of which included personal holiday gifts the students had received days earlier.
The school did not immediately respond to calls and emails surrounding the incident as school was not in session Monday.