On Mother’s Day, Tayler Soto drove his family out of the house as they have been in quarantine since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last March. When they returned home to Tucson, Arizona, they couldn’t believe what had happened.
A fire had destroyed their house.
Everything they owned was gone.
“It’s a little surreal, I guess,” Soto said. “It leaves you in a state of shock because you have something, and then you have nothing in 10 minutes. It took you about 10 minutes to get all your things. It was difficult.”
Even though the Soto family had lost all of their possessions, it brought them closer together.
“It makes me more grateful,” Soto said.
Tayler is a Chargers fan. His father grew up in East Los Angeles loving the Chargers, so when he moved his family to Arizona, they remained fans of the Chargers. Tayler had all kinds of team hats and shirts.
He remembers watching the Chargers when No. 87 belonged to wide receiver Keenan McCardell. He is very active on Chargers Twitter posting stuff during the offseason, during the season and a lot during games.
It is part of what is called “The Bolt Fam”.
Once the flames died down and he was safe to enter, Tayler decided to look around and see what had been salvaged. He found a white Chargers hat his father had given him, but he was ruined. There was only one item that made it, which was a Derwin James number 33 jersey.
He posted the video on Twitter and announced that he would take some time to figure out what is to come.
Another Chargers fan, Jennifer Mills, saw what happened and didn’t want to leverage, but wanted to help another fan. She is known as “Bolts Mom” to many fans because she gives gifts and is very active in the Chargers fan community. Tayler actually won one of her gifts a few years ago, so she knew him.
She received messages containing the tweets about the fire at Tayler’s house, so Mills did what she knew best, to help. Creating a GoFundMe account and the snowball effect has occurred.
“I wanted to kind of surprise him, and it all took off from there,” Mills said.
She was more of a “Bolt Guardian Angel” to the Soto family.
“She made sure our daughter was okay and had everything we needed,” Soto said.
Mills didn’t stop there. She began to contact the Chargers’ organization to see if they could do anything for the Soto family. Well, the Chargers reached out to the family via dm’s Twitter. He checked the message about 70 times to make sure it was the real account.
“I took a look at it, then I cried, honestly,” Soto recalls. “Well, you know, I never thought my childhood football team wanted to know my family was okay.”
He got a call from Chargers president of football operations John Spanos.
“He was absolutely humble and didn’t care about anything except my family,” Soto said.
Spanos gave the Soto family the trip of a lifetime. The Spanos family would take them to Los Angeles to visit SoFi Stadium and spend a few days relaxing in sunny California. Tayler, as well as his wife, Shaylia, were very excited but hesitated. Their daughter, Chandler, has health issues, which doctors advised the family a year ago to stay home because there was a lot of concern about COVID.
Spanos let him and his wife know that anyone around them would wear masks and be vaccinated, which helped them with their decision. Tayler said they had never been to an NFL stadium in his life.
Last week, the Soto family took a full tour of SoFi Stadium with a few surprises. They entered the team store and hiding behind a clothes rack was security Derwin James. Tayler said he was great to their daughter and very nice to them. James told the family he wanted to give them a shopping spree and pick what they wanted from the team store.
“We had conversations,” Soto said. “My wife and his wife (the other close to James) have been talking, and they’re really good people and really cool people. They don’t care about anything else except that we were okay and we were awesome. nervous. He bought us some gear, and we didn’t know what we could catch because we never did that, but it was crazy, man. We had fun. “
The Soto family were also able to take the pitch at SoFi Stadium and waiting for them was Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. If the Chargers had a Mount Rushmore, his iconic smile would be there.
Tayler was sharing the experience of checking out SoFi with Gates, who also hadn’t seen the stadium. The next moment changed my life.
“His first pass he caught at SoFi stadium was from me, so I thought that was pretty cool,” Soto said. “It’s awesome.”
Even Chandler threw a few passes at Gates.
The Chargers uploaded it all to social media.
“I was practically in tears,” Mills said of the social media posts. “It was such an amazing thing to watch.”
Mills said wide receiver Mike Williams, defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko and former linebacker Shawne Merriman all retweeted GoFundMe. Chargers fans donated just over $ 11,000, but it was also thanks to a certain former player.
Last March, Soto was outside his house to attend one of his favorite sports shows, The Pat McAfee Show. He was on hold for an hour and 40 minutes, so he believed he wouldn’t continue. McAfee responded and Soto froze.
“So I’m like ‘oh, wow’ I’m really on the show, and he’s kind of like ‘Hello?’ Soto recalls, “I’m like ‘okay, I don’t really know what to say.’ So I kind of started saying stuff, and I said, a bad thing, and he grabbed it and roasted me. “
On the show, Tayler shouted on his Twitter account, then told McAfee that “The Chargers have to make a splash” in free agency. After saying that, McAfee got a smile on his face and started questioning Tayler with his boys in the background asking, “WHAT? Made famous by WWE wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin.
McAfee said he believes the Chargers made a splash by hiring new coaching staff and signing quarterback Justin Herbert last season.
The show’s current host and WWE Smackdown announcer followed Tayler on Twitter, but it didn’t end there. McAfee donated $ 5,000 to Tayler’s GoFundMe page.
“I never thought that would have happened,” Soto admitted.
He went from having fun roasting himself on “The Pat McAfee Show” to getting a follow-up to receiving a heartwarming gift from the man himself.
“We will never have words to express how grateful we are to everyone, especially Pat,” Soto said.
Tayler has explained on several occasions that he couldn’t believe how much help he received from fans of the Chargers, the Chargers organization, McAfee, but also Jennifer Mills, who turned out to be a guardian angel for a family who felt the world around them had come. collapse.
“I want to thank the fans and a big thumbs up to Jen Mills,” Soto said. “I mean she started GoFundMe and made it all possible. She made sure our daughter was okay and had everything we needed. She stopped. Personally, and saw the house. , and we went through her and everything, and she went out of her way to do a lot of things for us.