By Tommy McCardle | Contributing Writer |
A fire destroyed the box truck owned by Empire Wrestling Federation (EWF) owner Jesse Hernandez during the early hours of Feb. 11.
Hernandez was driving the box truck home from an EWF event that took place in Covina on Friday night when he discovered the fire.
“A fire started in the rear of the truck where not only did it burn my [wrestling] ring, but also my PA system, lighting equipment and everything else,” said Hernandez.
Fortunately for Hernandez, the steel frame for the wrestling ring has been salvaged.
However, the wood plates, foam padding, canvas, turnbuckle pads, ropes, and tighteners for the ring have been lost due to the fire.
The box truck is beyond repair, and Hernandez will need to get a new vehicle.
Jake Alexander, booking agent for the EWF, was distraught over the tragedy.
“I’ve been in the wrestling business over half my life. It’s given me good days and bad. [Saturday] morning was by far the worst it has ever given me,” said Alexander.
Hernandez has been a key figure over the years in San Bernardino and nearby communities in social work.
For years, Hernandez has used the EWF to hold events for fundraising to help local charities, businesses, and victims of unfortunate tragedies.
The EWF ran an event at the Fox Theater in San Bernardino called “San Bernardino Strong,” on April 15, 2016.
The event was a benefit show to help the victims of the Dec. 2, 2015 shootings.
The proceeds of $2,994.71 went to the United Way in efforts to help those affected by the tragedy.
Hernandez and the EWF also have helped in the past with causes such as autism awareness, suicide prevention, supporting Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and working with local schools to provide supplies to students.
Ben Tomas, former ring announcer for the EWF, has felt the love and support from Hernandez during his time of need.
“Last year when all my medical problems started, and my bills began to pile up, the first people that reached out to me were everybody at EWF,” said Tomas.
Donations for Tomas’ GoFundMe campaign were accepted during EWF events.
“They got the word out about my situation, and now Jesse is the one who needs [our] help,” said Tomas.
Hernandez has helped a plethora of people, communities, and organizations over the past two decades.
“The EWF has helped people in need for over 20 years, from collecting money, to offering opportunities to kids to chase their dreams on wrestling instead of finding another pastime on the streets,” said Tomas.
Now, it is time for the community to come together to help out a man with so much love in his heart for his neighbors in the community.
A You Sharing campaign was created on the evening of Feb. 14 to help Hernandez and his company get back on their feet.
According to the campaign, “contact [was made] with their insurance company, but for a variety of reasons nothing is going to be covered.”
The goal of the campaign is to raise $19,500, and in its initial 24-hours had raised over $1,800.
Hernandez is currently accepting donations.