The Tampa Bay Buccaneers donated $11,000 on Monday to two youth football organizations that had equipment stolen over Memorial Day weekend.
"Put it this way, if the Bucs hadn't stepped up, we would've had a hard time playing this fall," Carrollwood Cardinals athletic director Eddie Polk said. "I was thinking, 'What are we going to do?' Then we heard from the Bucs. We can't thank them enough."
The Bucs donated $7,500 to the Cardinals, who play in the Tampa Bay Youth Football League. Meanwhile, a $3,500 donation was presented to the Highland Pines Cougars, part of the Unity Youth Football League playing at the Jackson Heights Youth Education Town Center.
"A tragedy has turned into a triumph," said Orlando Gudes, executive director of the UYFL.
Additionally, the youth players will participate in pregame ceremonies during the Bucs' home exhibition game against the New England Patriots on Aug. 24.
Tight end Dallas Clark, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Dekoda Watson participated in the check presentation with the Cardinals. Afterward, they led the players in football drills.
"This is a great day because I was worried we wouldn't be able to play any more without our equipment," 12-year-old Cougars quarterback Jacoby McClain said. "This means everything to us."