PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - A youth drumline group has a new ride to get them to and from practice and games. It was a surprise from the 76ers.
"Surprise. Surprise. We heard about the problem you've been having with your van and we want to make sure you get to the arena safe with your group. Don't cry," said Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Elton Brand as tears of joy flowed from Antoine Mapp's eyes. The 76ers presented him with a new van for his team the Stixers Drumline.
76ers employees found out about the Drumline's run down van after seeing it continuously breaking down. So the organization decided to gift them a new van decked out in the team's logo.
"I thank God every day and this is like a dream come true for me. You don't understand we've been through a lot and we never show it. We perform so much in the community," said Mapp. He says he had the old van for 9 years to pick up and drop off about 15 young people from West Powelton to and from drumline practice and games to perform.
"We never knew if it was ever going to get past the first gear. I had to wire rig to the battery to the fuel pump to start. My brakes failed several times. I'm unemployed but I take care of these kids every single day," said Mapp. 76ers President Chris Heck says they encourage staff to notice people doing right by others and this is one way to show how much Mapp means to the organization.
"He fits the mold. He's someone that we run into on a daily basis and when we heard this story everyone wanted to contribute," said Heck.
“Nobody never gave us anything. I never asked for anything. We perform and work for everything we get and for the 76ers to turn around and do this for us it's just so emotional right now," said Mapp. His s now 90-year-old grandmother Elsie Wise started the drumline in 1991 to keep at-risk kids off the streets.
Being part of it is a reward for them staying in school and getting good grades. Mapp has since taken over running the group.