Florida youth sports association has entire equipment stash stolen, local security company steps in to help

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

An inspiring youth football league in the Tampa Bay region finds itself on the brink of default, unless it can generate a massive influx of funds to replace thousands of dollars of equipment stolen just weeks before the season was set to begin. Now, a rather fitting company has stepped forward to help replace a significant portion of the lost gear, and may reinforce its own strategic positioning in the process.

The Sebring Youth Football program had all its equipment stolen, but a last ditch donation is helping — Facebook
The Sebring Youth Football program had all its equipment stolen, but a last ditch donation is helping — Facebook

As reported by Highlands Today, a regional edition of the Tampa Tribune, the Sebring Youth Sports Association (SYSA) had approximately $13,000 worth of football equipment stolen from the league’s storage facility at the Highlands County Sports Complex. The thefts came at some point over the weekend of June 15-16, and emptied SYSA of its entire football inventory.

The gear, which included helmets, shoulder pads and jerseys, would have been used to suit up around 120 young athletes, many of whom come from the more troubled neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay region.

Now, $5,000 of those funds are being replaced by a Lake Placid (Fla.) security business named Central Security & Electronics. Fittingly, the company is also donating a customized security system so that the massive theft that befell the SYSA won’t come again.

The decision to donate the $5,000 was a no brainer, according to Central Security & Electronics general manager Amy Smith.

"We're successful in our business because of the community, so we want to give back to the community," Smith told Highlands Today.

Even after Central Security & Electronics’ generous donation, SYSA stands far short of the funding it will require to completely replace the equipment which was thoughtlessly stolen (seriously, what is someone going to do with 120 sets of helmets and pads? Do they think that an area pawn shop might not be tipped off to a major theft of a similar amount of goods?).

The league continues to solicit donations from any and all companies and individuals, with interested partners able to contact SYSA president Marilyn McNellis at (863) 633-9998.

While there may still be some tough times ahead, SYSA would not have even had a hope of starting its 2013 season on time on August 3 if not for Central Security & Electronics’ donation, which should go some way to ensuring that both current and future generations of SYSA athletes get to compete in the gear they deserve.

"I have a lot of new kids coming who have never been in gear," McNellis told Highlands Today. "We try our best to get them out of there.”

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