A mixed squad of junior varsity and varsity cheerleaders chipped in to help with flood cleanup in the Silver Lake area on Sunday. From left: Kennedy Nardini, Noelle Ridolfi, Elizabeth Lucik, Avery Pollard, Aliyah Apolo, Karena Regnier, Karra Regnier, Sophia Rebellato, Hannah Clark (Submitted/The Report).

By Jason Arndt

When the Wilmot Union High School football team finished camp on Friday, the first item on its agenda for Saturday was to join forces with other community volunteers to clean up a flood-ravaged Silver Lake area, according to first-year coach Keiya Square.

Square, who received a call to action from former player Brian Hopkins, said it was a thrill to aid in the community cleanup efforts.

“When former player Brian Hopkins called me and asked if we would be able to help, I was all for it,” Square said. “Our players just got done on Friday with camp and I loved that they were able to give up their Saturday morning to help out.”

At around 9 a.m., when team representatives checked in to the Silver Lake area, Square said about 70 people were pitching in.

Nearly four hours later, after the team collected sandbags, Square said volunteers grew to nearly 100.

The team’s experience, Square said, is crucial considering some of the players came from the Silver Lake area.

“It is very important for our kids to get out and give back to the communities that helped raise them,” he said. “When you see these things in other places, it’s one thing, but for it to happen in a community that our players live in is another.”

The team reportedly moved hundreds of sandbags off of resident lawns.

Square, however, said the team played a small role and credited the community for coming together in time of need.

“We were only a small part of this and I commend all the volunteers that were out there all weekend helping out their friends, family and other community members in this time of crisis, those people are the real heroes,” Square said.

Square said the team’s small contribution would not have been possible without the help of Mike Gentile, a Riverview School Board member and new assistant Panthers’ football coach.

“(Mike) was on the phone with people with people trying to get more trucks and trailers for us to load up,” Square said. “We started with one small trailer and we ended up with three more trucks and another trailer to load up.”

The next day, Wilmot’s cheerleading squad picked up where the football team left off, with nearly a dozen members pitching in.

Eager to give back
Wilmot junior Lizzie Lucik, a varsity cheerleader, was one of 10 team members.

“There were 10 cheerleaders who eagerly showed up at 7 a.m. to help,” said Lucik, who said head coach Ryan Smith, Nicole Apolo and another community volunteer chipped in.

Apolo, the mother of cheerleader Aliyah Apolo, reportedly came up with the idea.

Lucik decided to contribute, noting her upbringing, and said a friend’s house had flood damage.

“It was important for me to get involved because I was lucky enough not to get any damage from the rain. I saw what damage my friend’s houses had, and the way I was brought up, neighbors help neighbors.”

Through her four hours, Lucik and other teammates checked in with area residents, asking if they needed help.

One encounter, she said, was with an elderly couple whose house had 3 to 4 feet of floodwater.

“When we entered the house, all their personal belongings were put in higher areas of the house to protect from the flooding,” Lucik said. “We had enough hands to keep the couple company while other went inside the house and cleaned out blackened insulation and spray the walls with an anti-mold spray.”

Like the football team, Wilmot’s cheerleading played a small role in solving the long-term woes of the community, she said.

“We did a lot to help at the houses, but it doesn’t even begin to dent all the work that will need to be done to make their houses and lives even close to the way they were before the flooding,” Lucik said.


1 Comment

  1. Phil Johnson says:

    Coach Square, the football team, and members of the cheer team are to be commended. This is what helping out in your community is all about. Congrats!

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