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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
WORCESTER — Worcester has its share of generous people and businesses. Now, the high-achieving Worcester Cowboys youth football team can certainly vouch for that.
The Cowboys, who will compete in the eight-team American Youth Football Nationals Dec. 2-9 in Kissimmee, Florida, have received a $25,000 gift from an anonymous donor to help defray costs of their southern excursion.
The team departs this morning in a bus. Families and friends will meet the Cowboys in Kissimmee.
All involved agree that this year's Cowboys' squad, comprised primarily of 12-year olds, is, indeed, special and the team's numbers bear this out. Worcester heads south riding a 39-game winning streak, punctuated by a 12-0 mark this fall.
Impressive numbers and records aside, the Cowboys have still had to deal with the stresses of fundraising. Donations have come from a variety of sources and everyone in the program has pitched in, including the players.
However, the $25,000 donation has effectively sealed the deal, and Worcester is officially ready for its trip to the big dance.
"The donation came from a friend of the city, and we're all extremely
grateful," Worcester Cowboys coach/president Bob LaRose said. "All the individuals in our program are very appreciative of this gift. No question, there's a lot of good people out there. It kind of restores your faith in humanity."
A major contributor to the stress of fundraising was the time factor. Worcester captured the regional championship several weeks back when it downed Woodland, Conn., 49-12. The win qualified the Cowboys for the AYF Nationals.
However, the Cowboys only had about two weeks to raise enough money to travel. Before the anonymous gift, LaRose noted that the team was in danger of not reaching its financial goal, hence an elevated stress level.
"But a lot of good people and businesses came through for us," LaRose said. "With the anonymous donation, the parents even got their money back. It's now a free trip for them. Obviously, we're all very happy and excited."
LaRose added that numerous city businesses have made generous donations, including Wormtown Brewery, Zemaitis Insurance and City Welding.
The combination of an incredible season and the amazing generosity of the Worcester community has had a memorable impact on LaRose.
"I've been doing this for five years and people-wise and community-wise, this has been our best year during that span," LaRose said. "The whole experience has given me a different perspective on life, and it carries over into coaching.
"But, in the end, it's all about the kids, and we've got a really great group here," LaRose said. "They appreciate all the donations and they really look forward to the AYF Nationals."
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