LOS ANGELES — For the people who lost everything in the in Paradise, California, full recovery could be years away. But on Monday night, some teens made a big step in the process.
It’s not often a team gives gift bags to its opponents. But that’s what happened in Chico, California, Monday night, where the two teams linked hands. Then the Paradise players took to the court for their first game since the fire, wearing donated uniforms and sneakers.
“The support that we had behind us was amazing,” said Tori Mac, point guard for the Paradise High School girls’ basketball team.
“It’s more a friendship than a rivalry now,” said Fiona Roberts, a forward for the team.
With 20 miles separating the schools, the devastating Camp Fire has now brought them together. Paradise High School has 200 student athletes, but only five still have homes.
“It’s been just devastating and everyone’s all in the same boat,” said Roberts.
The fire wiped out 19,000 buildings and claimed 88 lives. Somehow the high school was left standing and with it, pride.
“Even though we’re a small town we’re going to rebuild. We have to keep our heads up and we have to stay positive,” said coach Sheila Craft.
The boys also played their first game against Chico. The girls lost and the boys won, but they all learned a much bigger lesson.
“It just gives us happiness to be out there and to forget about everything that is going on,” said Mac.
The spirit of these teams isn’t just supporting the players, but the communities that now have something to cheer about.