Community steps-up to help rebuild gym of Nico Hernandez

WICHITA, Kan. Just days after members of the Northside Boxing Academy woke up to find their gym burned up in a fire, they find members of the community at their door. People ready to roll up their sleeves and get out their check books.

The gym’s manager remembers the feeling from Saturday morning.

"It was a depressing kind of day for everybody, especially the boxing family,” said Emiliano Hernandez. “It was their second home."

But Hernandez had a different feeling Thursday, as he watched the community come to help the non-profit gym, aimed at getting and keeping kids off the street.

"I heard that the place caught on fire and needed some help fixing it,” said Jason Deblois, Owner of Acme Floors “I thought my tools were perfect for the job, and I know how to do remodel work. I came to help."

Hernandez says the gym took $75,000 worth of damage in the weekend fire, and they knew they would need help to get things running again.

"There's always an opportunity to help others. It doesn't always have to be money,” said Tony Clark, who works as an electrical and mechanical contractor. “Everybody has a talent, so share your talent. Whatever that may be."

Most notably, this is the gym where Olympic bronze medalist Nico Hernandez grew up and trained. He was optimistic Saturday about the gym absorbing this blow, and Thursday his faith was rewarded.

"This gym means a lot,” Nico admitted. “It always kept a lot of kids out of trouble. It's like our second home. Like our second family here. Being all together, we are going to be happy to be at home."

Nico inspired Wichita in Rio this summer… and now Wichita inspires him in return.

"It's a great feeling, because I knew the community would come together,” admitted Nico. “I know Wichita has my back."
Management says the gym still has major projects to overcome including refurbishing and replacing the weight room, lighting work, and getting new overhead doors.

As of this story, here is a list of businesses that have stepped up to help so far:

Hopper’s Glass
Rutledge Allstate Insurance
Tony Clark Electrical
White Glove Junk Removal & Dumpster Rental
A.C.M.E. Floors
Ground Control Lawn & Landscape
Allmetal Recycling