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Man who coaches kids from low-income families devastated by theft of team’s equipment

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Posted at 9:15 PM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 23:30:22-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A low-income little league football team from Rose Park is refusing to throw in the towel after someone stole all of their sporting equipment, a loss amounting to $1,600.

“Honestly I was pissed. I was real pissed off. It got me, it got to me,” said Percy Pearson, the Basketball and football coach for the Rose Park Panthers.

For five years, Pearson has been coaching the teams made up of 7 and 8-year-old kids, all from low-income families.

“When you start messing with my babies and kids: We got problems, we got serious problems,” Pearson said.

It was Thursday evening just after 5:30 when Pearson came out to his car and saw the door had been broken.

“Gone, everything gone," he said. "I looked in the back of the Escalade, gone."

Parked in front of his home in West Valley City, he had the team's equipment in the back of his car along with new jerseys he was anxiously waiting to give to his players.

“We have a lot of low-income kids that can't afford to play, and they come from one-parent homes, some of them are DCFS custody, and this is their stuff I got for them,” Pearson said.

Pearson referees sports after work to pay for equipment and uniforms for the kids.

“He just does everything he can to help all of us, and there are some that can't even afford to pay the league prices to put him in sports,” said Idanna Macceo a single mom whose son, Chase, plays basketball and football for Pearson.

“They took all of our stuff,” Chase said. “It would be fun playing football, but now we can’t because we don’t have the stuff."

But Pearson says this won't stop his team. He'll find a way to keep his kids playing.

“It's not about the winning and losing, it ain't even about the sports, it’s about giving them something to do, something to believe in, ya know,” Pearson said.

Parents have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to replace the equipment and uniforms. When FOX 13 News first reported on the story, that page had raised $70. Within a few minutes of the story airing, generous viewers donated to bring that amount to more than $2,000, which was the goal amount set.

“We don't know what we would do without him, he's just the best coach we've ever had, and he does everything he can for everyone and he'd give the shirt off his back,” Macceo said.