MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Florida City woman, better known as ‘the kickball mom,’ and her family are having to stay at a hotel after a house fire destroyed everything they own.
On most days, six days a week to be exact, Samantha Mitchell can be found playing kickball with about twenty or more kids at a local park.
This week the games were canceled as tragedy struck her family.
Everyone was home when the fire started except Samantha who was at work. Her husband called her in panic. “I couldn’t breathe when I first got here. And then when I counted the heads, from down the street and thank God I counted all the heads and they was all there. And this was nothing to me. Knowing that they would survive I was OK. I didn’t care if the house burned down,” she recalls.
The cause of the fire appears to be a hoverboard.
The fire inspector could see it based on the intensity of the fire. The board now sits on the side of the house, melted and exposed. Samantha shakes her head. “I thought they fixed the glitch in them and everything, but obviously they didn’t.”
They had just bought it for one of the kid’s birthday. Dad plugged it in to charge and less than an hour later they heard an explosion and then saw flames.
Now the aftermath. “All my clothes in the closet. As you can see it is gone. Everything is charcoal. Just gone,” Samantha says.
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On Friday morning, while most children were at school, the Mitchell family spent the day cleaning.
All six kids, mom and dad are throwing away just about everything they own. Samantha walks around what is left of her bedroom. “This was the master bedroom. All gone.”
The drywall is charred black. You can see the sky through the ceiling. The family is all wearing masks, trying to protect themselves from the thick smell of smoke that still fills the house.
The family is trying to stay positive but they have no idea what they are going to do.
“I don’t know. We don’t have like real close immediate family. It’s just me my husband and the kids really. So umm, after the hotel I really don’t know,” Samantha says.
It is not just her kids looking to her to keep life going, but more than 20 other children in the neighborhood.
For more than a decade Samantha and her husband have run self-funded program playing kickball at the park.
Freddrick Little, an avid kickball player lights up when asked about it. “We love to play every day,” he says.
Six days a week after school they play keeping the kids out of trouble and building character.
Seven-year-old Leon Mitchell Junior explained it best, “Teamwork is all about having friendship with everybody. And we like to play out there every day so we can make friends.”
Now homeless, many parents and kids are wondering what will come of the neighborhood game.
“The kids count on that. The families count of that,” Samantha explains.
Samantha is hoping to keep the program going.
She thinks for a moment about it and then takes a pledge, “I’m not going to let this one bad thing spoil it for a bunch kids. 20 plus kids. Plus mine.”
Leon would not let her stop if she wanted to.
“Keep on playing kickball and start over. And all that stuff. And then we stay in the hotel for now,” he says confidently.
If you would like to help the Mitchell family, you can get in touch with Neighbors4Neighbors. You can call them at 305-597-4404 or go to the website, Neighbors4Neighbors.org