POPLAR SPRINGS - A group of students that have taken their region to state in STEM competitions - and from state to nationals - is in dire need of the public's help.
Poplar Springs High School recent graduates Joseph Godwin, Bryson Potts and their robotics coach Trey Paul, need financial support in purchasing laptops after theirs were stolen out of their vehicle last week while at a stop in Atlanta on their way to the International SeaPerch competition being held at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
SeaPerch is an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) competition, in which, the students have won at the regional level for three consecutive years.
"These boys and Mr. Paul have worked incredibly hard for years - these boys have done an incredible job and worked so hard," said Laura Wells, teacher at Poplar Springs and assistant robotics coach. "For them to get this far to go to this competition and for this to happen, it's just heart-breaking."
Wells has started a GoFundMe account to raise $4,000 to cover the estimated loss of the three laptops.
According to Wells, a police report was filed and the insurance notified, however, only damage to the vehicle was covered under the policy. The robotics program is not state funded at Poplar Springs, meaning the students have to raise money to participate in competitions.
"This robbery has dealt major blows to the group both mentally and monetarily," Wells wrote on the campaign page. "While we can't get their devices back, I hope we will be able to raise enough to replace them. If you are able, please consider supporting this cause. I don't personally know anyone more deserving of support than these three."
As of Monday afternoon, the page had raised $1,402.
The laptops contained material related to the competition, as well as, files for college classes and other personal files. Godwin and Potts are currently enrolled in college full-time and are also employees at the Florida Parks Service.
To donate, go to: www.gofundme.com/robotics-trio-needs-your-help.