Topsail youth football coaches step up to help find missing boy

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HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — A 12-year-boy was missing in Hampstead for nearly four days, before he was found safe on Wednesday afternoon. His former youth football coaches had a lot to do with that.

“If one of your family members is missing then you’re going to go out and you’re going to hunt for them,” Topsail Junior Pirate football coach Jermaine Kemp said.

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The Topsail Junior Pirates football organization has created a bond within their community. That bond has turned into a family for this Pender County town. So, when they found out a former player was missing, it hit a little too close to home.

“The name rang a bell, but it didn’t actually hit home until I realized who it was picture wise,” Topsail Junior Pirate football coach Wayne Clark said. “So, immediately after that my heart sank, my stomach sank. I have my own kids in this program. So, I reached out to the family to see if there was anything we could do to support and let them know we were here for them.”

The group wasted no time in joining the efforts to find their former player, which started with them meeting up at a local store to come up with a game plan. The gentleman involved in the search were not only football coaches, but also military veteran.

Their organized plan was almost like a tactical operation as they began combing through the nearby woods where the boys was last seen. After fours of searching, they were able to find him at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. It was a moment that they won’t soon forget.

“The first thing he said was like ‘you know I’m sorry coach, I’m scared,'” Kemp said. “I think that it helped having my son there and being known as a coach and you know Wayne being known as a coach in the community. He was able to just come out of the shed he was hiding in and just embrace us. He said that he was scared and you know we’re like ‘hey you’re going to be safe buddy, we’ve got you now.’ So, that was a really really good feeling.”

Kemp’s 5th grade son AJ was there for all of it, eager for the opportunity to help a fellow kid. He says during the hours long search there was only one thing he was hoping for.

“I just wanted to find my friend,” AJ Kemp says.

Through it all this community came together and did just that for a boy that will always be considered a Topsail Pirate.