A fire that occurred in the fall 2019 put the status of the East Side Youth Athletics organization in serious jeopardy. And with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting in 2020, there was a belief that it may not be able to offer opportunities to children in grade schools much longer.

That’s when the University of Wisconsin jumped into action.

In a recent story from Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, deputy athletic director Chris McIntosh learned about the fire that occurred in a storage facility that could prevent East Side Youth Athletics from moving forward with its football program. He then went to head football coach Paul Chryst and the two started discussing ways to help out.

“I found out about it from a parent of one of the kids,” McIntosh told the Journal-Sentinel, “and they were in the midst of trying to raise funds to replace the equipment that had been destroyed.

“I brought it to Paul and we talked about it. It seemed like one of those things, given the relationships and partnerships that we have, it seemed like a good opportunity for us to see if we could help.”

Wisconsin took the opportunity to reach out to Under Armour, Riddell and Signature Concepts to ask about replacing equipment that had been destroyed in the fire. With assistance from those companies, Wisconsin was then able to assist with a few other little things that needed to be done.

Thanks to that assistance, nearly 200 children — 150 playing football and around 30 cheerleaders — will get the opportunity to participate in the program.