A fire at Blake High School in Tampa destroyed approximately $11,000 worth of football equipment

By Georgia Slater
June 10, 2020 11:39 AM
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Rob Gronkowski
Credit: Jason Koerner/Getty

Rob Gronkowski is making sure to give back to his new community in Tampa, Florida.

After hearing about a fire last month at Blake High School in Tampa, the football player — who will make his return to the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — wanted to do his part to help replace the football equipment that the team had lost.

According to ESPN, the May 16 fire broke out in the athletics storage shed, destroying approximately $11,000 worth of the school's football equipment including pads, field markers, tackling dummies, and more.

On Tuesday, Gronkowski announced on social media that his organization, the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation, in partnership with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation, would be paying for everything that was lost and provide all new equipment and a new shed for the team.

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"The Gronk Nation Youth Foundation and my new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are all about helping youth reach their full potential. So we’re gonna do just that," he said in a video posted by the NFL team.

"To the Blake High School Yellow Jackets, you're getting a brand-new storage unit and new football equipment to replace everything that was lost," the 31-year-old announced.

He concluded the video, "Keep working hard this summer, stay active and stay healthy and my new teammates and I are looking forward to seeing you soon."

While the school district was already planning to replace the equipment, the athlete's donation will go towards an expected year of budget cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the outlet reported.

"This fire was devastating to our student-athletes after an already tumultuous past few months," Blake High Principal Jesse Salters said in a statement, per ESPN.

Sunny football field at sunset
Credit: Getty Images

"This donation from the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation is a generous gesture from our brand-new Buccaneer, and neighbor, Rob Gronkowski," Salters continued. "Thank you to Gronk and the Bucs for this donation, which will allow Blake High to replace all its football equipment and help our athletes get back on the field."

Kavon Willingham, a player on the Yellow Jackets, said he was "in disbelief" after hearing about the fire.

"It's going to be hard for us this season with no equipment," he recalled thinking.

After learning of Gronk's donation, Willingham said he was "thrilled."

"Being a Bucs fan, Gronk not knowing much about Tampa but still donating was touching," he told ESPN. "It shows he cares about the youth."