Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this off-season. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
June 9 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and star tight end Rob Gronkowski are teaming up to replace a local high school's football equipment that was lost in a fire last month.
Gronkowski learned that a fire broke out May 16 at Blake High School in Tampa, Fla. According to Tampa Fire Rescue, the blaze destroyed an athletics storage shed filled with almost all of the school's football gear, including pads, field markers, pylons and other items. The equipment was worth about $11,000.
The former New England Patriots pass-catcher and the Buccaneers Foundation then reached out to the school to offer support. The Gronk Youth Foundation and Bucs Foundation split the cost to replace the shed and gear.
"Hey, everyone. Last week, we heard about an unfortunate incident in Tampa where a fire burned down a high school storage shed full of their team's football equipment. Sadly, they lost it all," Gronkowski said in a video posted on the Buccaneers' Twitter account.
"To the Blake High School Yellow Jackets, you're getting a brand-new storage unit and new football equipment to replace everything that was lost."
Hillsborough County athletic director Lanness Robinson told the Tampa Bay Times the school district planned to replace the equipment. But the donation from Gronkowski and the Buccaneers will allow those funds to be used elsewhere, in what is expected to be a year of budget cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"This fire was devastating to our student-athletes after an already tumultuous past few months," Blake High School principal Jesse Salters said in a statement. "This donation from the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation is a generous gesture from our brand new Buccaneer, and neighbor, Rob Gronkowski.
"Thank you to Gronk and the Bucs for this donation which will allow Blake High to replace all its football equipment and help our athletes get back on the field."
A juvenile who confessed to starting the fire was arrested last week and charged with two counts of second-degree arson and one count of burglary, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.
The Patriots traded Gronkowski, who came out of retirement, to the Buccaneers earlier this off-season.