High school football players in the midst of preseason two-a-day practices in 90-degree heat don’t smile much. For the Edison Senior High School Red Raiders, Tuesday was an exception.
Laughter filled the air Tuesday afternoon as the Miami Dolphins and Baptist Health South Florida presented the Red Raiders with new sports equipment, a month after the school’s field house burned down, destroying the team’s equipment.
“We saw what happened to you guys and we’re happy to be able to help you out in any way we can,” Dolphins chief executive officer Tom Garfinkel told the team. “We’re proud to be here today. You guys are what’s important and we care about you.”
The donation included new tackling dummies, cleats and other pieces of gear lost in the blaze. Upon learning of the fire, Edison head coach Luther Campbell wondered if they even had the funds to replace the items. A simple tweet from Garfinkel changed everything.
“This is the best thing to ever happen to this community,” Campbell said. “It means the world to Miami Edison and it’s a beautiful thing that this happened.”
The tragedy turned triumph resonated with Dolphins senior vice president Nat Moore. The former Dolphins wide receiver graduated from Edison and understood the impact a gift like this would have on the players.
“You never know how many of these kids will go on to do great things not just in football but in life,” Moore said, “because they see that people are watching and people care and people don’t mind helping as long as you’re doing the right thing.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and there’s no timetable for when the field house will be rebuilt, according to Edison Principal Leon P. Maycock.
Meanwhile, the Red Raiders can now practice without having to worry about a lack of equipment.
For a team that has experienced its share of tragedy, knowing that someone cares about them gives the student athletes a sense of pride, said Campbell. The Red Raiders were mourning the loss of 17-year-old teammate Richecarde Dumay, one of three teens killed in May by a driver as they waited for a bus to take them to a soccer tournament, when the fire ravaged the field house.
“They needed something to feel good about,” Campbell said. “For the first time in a long time, they feel appreciated. They feel good.”
With the season set to kick off Aug. 16, the equipment couldn’t have come at a better time. Junior quarterback Keith Moore couldn’t be more excited:
“We ready,” Moore said. “We got something to prove now.”