Saturday, a Mishawaka wrestler heard the words no one wants to hear, “your house has burned down.”
Mishawaka High School junior, Brandon Madera, was waiting to wrestle his way to third place as a heavyweight in the Al Smith Invitational Dec. 28. His mother and brothers left the school less than an hour before Madera received a startling text message from a friend asking him whether his house caught fire.
Incredulous, Madera replied that it had not. Minutes later he received yet another text message, this time from a neighbor, “I hate to tell you this, but your house caught fire.”
The 285 pound wrestler’s first instinct was to call his mother to see if his family was alright. No answer. As panic set in Madera ran to his coach, Charlie Cornett, to tell him he had to leave.
“I was trying to keep my composure but obviously I could not. I told my coach I had to forfeit, I really didn’t want to because I worked so hard to get where I’m at,” Madera explained, “it’s all gone in one second.”
Madera ran from the school to a cousin’s house nearby but no one was home. He then ran to the 7-11 where a friend picked him up and drove him to his house on Providence Ct. in Mishawaka.
“I went to my mom and she was very, very emotional. It was just—it’s to the point where you never imagine seeing your mom upset,” said Madera.
For such a traumatic incident the high school junior handled it well. He recalled seeing the front windows blown out and the fire marshal inspecting the badly damaged interior.
Inside almost everything was destroyed except for a few items. Madera said a Jesus figurine and several pictures that had been blessed were the only objects undamaged by the flames.
“It was hard because I looked at my room, and my room, it’s just all gone,” Madera added.
Madera, three of his five brothers, as well as his mother and father all lived inside the two-story home. After the fire they moved into two hotel rooms, which Madera described as “cramped.”
Coach Cornett asked his wrestlers and their families to help out the Maderas as much as they could. Since Saturday, the Mishawaka Wrestling Club accepted donations from Penn, Jimtown, St. Joseph High School, as well as several anonymous donors.
Teams usually considered rivals of Mishawaka stepped up in full for to help.
“It’s true from this day as we move forward that the wrestling community is there for him and we’ll help him,” Cornett said.
Cornett and Sharon Forte, president of the Mishawaka Wrestling Club said the program is a family and they treat any misfortunes to one of its members as a misfortune to everyone.
Following the fire, the Madera family was left with essentially the clothes on their backs. The club asks that anyone interested in donating drop off clothing or gift cards at the Mishwaka wrestling room, or by reaching out to Sharon at Sharon@mishawakawrestling.com .
An account has also been set up in the Madera Family name at Mutual Bank at 121 South Church St. in Mishawaka. Monetary donations can be made at any Mutual Bank Branch.