EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KPLR) – The outpouring of love and support for an East St. Louis wrestling team is still going strong. The team was hit by thieves and all their equipment was stolen earlier this month. Tuesday night the owner of the East St. Louis McDonald's donated 20 percent of dinner sales to the team.
Wrestler Damien Ross remembers what happened, "I didn't have my head-gear for wrestling." He and his fellow team members lost their equipment after a big win that would take them to state.
Jimmy Williams owns the East St. Louis McDonald's. He said, "It's only natural for us to come together and support our team."
After FOX 2 reported the story businesses and people began offering help. Williams not only gave the team a cut of the profits Tuesday evening he also fed the athletes. Williams was born in East St. Louis. He's also a local success story, he owns a total of ten McDonald's in the metro area. Williams said, "In order to do well you have to do good. So, I'm proud to support our wrestling team in a time of need.
School bus driver Michelle McKinnie loves kids. She showed up to support the cause, "I want them all to succeed so anything I can do even if it's a few dollars I want to help I want to help."
Former juvenile officer Della Murphy donated. Murphy said, "Might not know them, but they're kids in East St. Louis and the kids in East St. Louis need all the help they can get.
Police Chief Michael Floore was there, "This is what East St. Louis is all about, trying to help our children, that's why we go to work to make sure these kids have a future."
Wrestler Ernest Moore said, "I'm very thankful and the team is very thankful for that." And the team coach Rashad Riley summed it up, "They want to see young people doing positive things, that's what I mark the program off of. I want to make sure our kids are good students, first, good people second and good athletes third."
The team, with all its new equipment, travels to Chicago this weekend for the state tournament. They are underdog, but the coach is optimistic they can win.