Stolen equipment belonging to Bell Gardens Youth Football league leaves season in doubt

BELL GARDENS, Calif. (KABC) -- Some of the 120 kids who play in Bell Gardens Youth Football and cheer tossed the football at Bell Gardens High School Tuesday to distract themselves from the news that their season is now in jeopardy.

"I was mad, honestly. Why would someone have done that. We're just kids trying to have fun and play football," said Juan Garcia, who plays in the Bell Gardens Youth Football league.

Over the weekend, their equipment shed at Bell Gardens High School was broken into, and thousands of dollars worth of shoulder pads, helmets, knee pads and everything they need to play was stolen.

"This is all of our hard work, our dedication, everything that we worked for and all they did was take it away from us. And now we have to rebuild from the top and see if there could be hopes for a season. I'm hoping that there could be one, I want to because I want to live my last year of football here, but if there's not, that's really devastating, it hurts the heart," said Nathaniel Andujo, who plays in the league.

The season starts in 20 days. In order to be in the league, the kids must keep a certain GPA and are awarded for achieving honors.

"I don't consider them as friends. I consider them as brothers to me. When something is bad at home, I struggle with something, I come here and I don't think about it all day. It gets my mind off everything," said Julian Garcia, who plays in the youth football league.

"It's frustrating. This is exactly what our kids need to be doing in communities across the L.A. area. They need to be involved in programs that teach teamwork, responsibility and hard work," said Bell Gardens Chief of Police Scott Fairfield.

But the team isn't giving up hope and has launched a fundraising campaign, hoping the community will support a league that means so much to so many.

The police department has already received a few thousand dollars in donations, and parents have set up a GoFundMe with a goal of raising $50,000. Here is a link to that page: www.gofundme.com/f/bell-gardens-youth-football-and-cheer.
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