YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — The Yorktown Patriots Football and Cheerleading organization lost everything in a recent fire, but a generous donation from the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation will make a huge difference to the league.
WAVY.com was the first to report about fire when it happened, earlier this month.
“It hurt a lot of people,” said Jamie Vaughan, who coaches the Yorktown Patriots Mites. “Not just kids. It hurt the parents. It hurt everyone in the community.”
The league keeps everything they have in two storage units on the property of Yorktown Middle School, where they play their home games. About two weeks ago, one of the storage containers caught fire, destroying cheerleading uniforms and all the equipment the team has for concessions. The other storage container, with all the football uniforms, pads, helmets and more, did not catch fire, but most everything sustained water or smoke damage.
“That was our livelihood in there for the kids, for the community,” said Joan Holloway, vice president of the league.
The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office is investigating the fire as an act of arson.
Holloway said the outlook for the Patriots was bleak until Thursday when the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation heard about the fire. The foundation’s executive director, Jane Rodgers, said they got a hold of WAVY News’ Liz Palka’s original story on the fire, and felt inclined to help.
Holloway got an unexpected phone call.
“At first, I was asking myself was it real,” she said. “Then, when Mr. Snyder called me, I knew it was real.”
The NFL team’s owner, Dan Snyder, made a personal phone call to Holloway saying the Redskins foundation plans to donate $10,000 to the Yorktown Patriots.
“I jumped out of my seat, raising my hands,” said Vaughan. “We’re very, very thankful for that.”
“I started to cry,” said Holloway. “Because I’ve been out here 20 years with the kids. I’ve seen the kids that started out and now their kids are playing. So, I was very, very overwhelmed.”
Holloway and Coach Vaughan know how important the league is. The kids who participate are between six and 14, and many are from low-income families.
“We deal with a lot of kids that we want to keep out of the street, doing something positive,” said Vaughan.
With football, a touch of rivalry is always involved. Even Holloway, a Cowboys fan, admits she now has a special place in her heart for the Redskins.
“I’m just elated,” she said. “Overwhelmed with respect for the Washington Redskins.”
“They have saved our league,” added Vaughan. “Not just our season — that saves our league. And that’s very, very touching.”
The Yorktown Patriots say they want Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation leaders to join them for a game later on this year. They’re looking forward to showing off everything the foundation helped them accomplish.
WAVY.com has received multiple calls and emails from groups in the Hampton Roads community wanting to help the Yorktown Patriots. Immediately following our original story, the Yorktown Fleet Reserve Assocation (FRA) Branch 172 voted to donate to $300 to the league.
There’s been a large community effort to help the kids, and now the Redskins have helped even more, making the league’s activities this year a reality again.