Wrestling team donates toys | SummitDaily.com

Wrestling team donates toys

summit daily news
summit county, co colorado

The idea started as a way for the Summit High School wrestling team to make something more out of a rebuilding season. It turned into $1,200 worth of toys for

The Children’s Hospital in Aurora and the beginning of a new tradition.

Wrestling coach Jack Byrne, senior wrestler Zach Campbell and junior wrestlers Diego Andraca and Nate Roe took what amounted to seven full wheel-barrows of toys to the hopsital last Sunday.

“Instead of worrying about winning and losing (this past season), we worried about other people and made that our big accomplishment,” Byrne said.

The idea was spawned by Byrne as he tried to figure out a way the team could accomplish more in the upcoming season. Eventually he thought doing community service and working for a charity was the best answer.

Picking a charity was the first step, and Byrne looked to his childhood for the answer.

“I come from Boston, and the children’s hospital and all that stuff is a huge thing,” he said. “There’s just a huge sense of community when helping one, and so when I found out there was one here I said, ‘Why not?'”

The fundraising started as the team earned money for things like staying after practice to work out longer, winning a match or doing a community service act.

“Sometimes in practice I’d have to shush them to focus on wrestling because they were so psyched to help other people and tell me about what they were doing,” Byrne said.

Those smaller acts amounted to about $50 for the team. The project gained the majority of its monetary donations when it shadowed waiters at Bubba Gumps Shrimp Company restaurant in Breckenridge.

The team helped the servers with their daily routines, like getting drinks and carrying plates, and then asked for donations at the end of customers’ meals. The team came away with around $1,200.

The next step was going out and buying the toys for the children. Byrne turned to Andraca to buy the boys’ gifts and a senior basketball player, Jeana Holman, to buy the girls’ gifts. The three went to Wal-Mart and Byrne let them loose.

“It just felt like being a little kid again,” Andraca said. “I was buying little action figures and hand-held video games, movies and things like that.”

The group bought enough gifts to fill seven red wagons a foot and a half high to take to the hospital. When Byrne, Andraca, Campbell and Roe arrived at the hospital, they were greeted quite warmly.

“They were over the top, just simply the best,” Children’s Hospital volunteer coordinator Barbara Agnelli said. “I was just thinking of how much we needed (the toys) because we needed to restock the playroom on each floor.”

This is when the players realized they had done something special.

“I was glad I was there because it felt like I had actually done something,” Andraca said. “They were so thankful and said they don’t really get a lot of toys this time of year.”

The players weren’t allowed to hand deliver the toys to each patient because of confidentiality, but the few who came into the lobby had huge eyes and were psyched, Byrne said.

The team now plans to carry on this tradition every year. The team has been receiving different ways to raise money, and Byrne hopes it continues to grow.

“I want to instill in my wrestlers not every kid is as lucky as you,” Byrne said. “Some kids don’t really have it very good and they still wake-up every day and stick it out in the hard times and they represent what we want in our kids.”

Jonathan Batuello can be reached at (970) 668-4653 or jbatuello@summitdaily.com.

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