HAMPTON, Va. - The phrase "Hokie Nation" runs deep.
It's more than a university's catch-phrase. It's an indication of how people live their lives and help one another. When one member of the Hokie Nation hurts, everyone feels the sting.
On Sunday morning, the youngest Hokies were targeted and their summer athletic equipment was stolen right from underneath them.
Saeed Williams is Vice President of the Hampton Roads Hokies, a Hampton-based nonprofit designed to engage youth ages 4-13 in athletic activities to develop their social skills, teamwork, discipline, and leadership.
"Some kids don’t have a big family, some kids don’t have families at all but when they come here for those 2 1/2 to three hours even outside of that they have a family with their specific team and [the team] as a whole," Williams said.
Williams has been building the program for the past four years and had never experienced any major setbacks until this week.
He said, "On the morning of June 7th our connex, which stores our equipment, was broken into. Shoulder pads, helmets, cheerleading equipment, track equipment and misc items were taken."
As summer practices and equipment distributions are set to begin, the criminal act hurts the kids the most. Williams said they have about 300 children involved in the organization.
"Being in a high crime area with a percentage of our athletes coming from economically challenged background, this violation of our program has had a detrimental impact," Williams said.
Hampton Police are investigating the incident and Williams said they contacted a few sports stores and pawn shopes in case the stolen items wind up there.
The theft may be inconvenient, but he said the team will still have a season and the coaches will do whatever is necessary to have the kids start off on the right foot.
Williams has started a GoFundMe in hopes to purchase new equipment and replace what was stolen.