The effects of the storms that ripped through Michiana are still lingering heavily throughout the area. There are still many uprooted trees and local parks can’t hide the devastation. Though for one local community group, the storms left them out of a residence.
“When our building was hit by the storms, you could see a tornado funnel cloud going through the building,” P.J. Perri, Director at Heroes Camp said. “It threw the bleachers, took off a garage door that weighs 200 to 300 pounds.”
This destruction is costly, not only monetarily. Heroes Camp is a facility which helps young men embrace fathering and responsibilities of adulthood through sports. The program takes young men away from harmful situations on the streets and teaches them what it is to be a responsible adult. But now, their enormous basketball facility was in shambles.
“When it first happened, the kids didn’t know what was going on,” Perri said. “They were devastated. They would walk by and say ‘Heroes Camp is broken, what are we going to do?’ This place is like home for them.”
Heroes Camp wasn’t out of commission for long. Chad Addie, Director of Development at South Bend Career Academy, saw the damage Heroes Camp suffered and immediately offered his help.
“I called P.J. and asked him if they needed a place to go,” Addie said. “He said ‘you’re kidding. What’s the cost?’ I said nothing. Community helps community.”
“I’m humbled,” Pat Magley, Founder of Heroes Camp, said. “I’m humbled by God first of all and I’m humbled by the South Bend Career Academy through Chad Addie. I didn’t see it coming and the best things in life you don’t see coming.”
The South Bend Career Academy welcomes the members of Heroes Camp four days a week, allowing the camp to continue their program without a hitch. With students out of school for the summer, the camp plays an important role in keeping the kids safe and off the streets.
“I live in a dangerous area,” Cam’Ron Turner, 13-year-old from South Bend said. “When I come here it’s just different. It’s a more peaceful environment.”
“When I saw the destruction that was done in that gym, for the house that God built, I cried,” Magley said. “My wife cried because of the condition of the gym. I cried because of the condition I see in the children’s eyes, the condition in their mind and heart being let down, overlooked, abandoned and neglected. Noah’s ark was built for the storm, but Heroes Camp is built for the storms of life.”
The South Bend Career Academy isn’t the only help they’re receiving. Jimmy John’s, Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, Chic-Fil-A and Hungry Howie’s have all donated food for the children at the camp.
“All of these places are donating food free of charge,” Perri said. “This is going to be the best meal they have all day when they come here. It’s amazing to see the community support.”
After the extensive damage to the Heroes Camp facility, Perri estimated the cost of the damage to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But they hope to be back at their facility by the end of August.