Hopes of winning competition resurrected after robot damaged in car wreck

CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. — A group of hi-tech high schoolers won’t let anything hold them back.

Foothills Robotics 6888 in Caldwell County qualified for the robot building competition’s semi-finals.

“With how many setbacks we had, we should not have made as far as we did,” said Aiden Pepoli, a team member.

The team’s celebrations were cut short within hours of its most recent competition.

Pepoli said he was riding home from the match when a driver slammed into his family’s SUV and the trailer carrying their robotic treasure.

“It was a mangled mess of metal,” Pepoli said. “Bent metal everywhere and some of our motors exploded open. It was bad.”

The team refused to let the crash crush their dreams, and they had help along the way.

The community and other teams in the competition stepped up to bring the robot back to life.

“Within a couple of hours of everybody hearing it, it was a bunch of support and help, and it was crazy,” said Ian Martinichio, a team member.

Martinichio was shocked to learn strangers donated $5,000 on the first day, which helped them reach their GoFundMe goal.

Foothills Robotics 6888 is on a time crunch to rebuild the robot, “Daniel Boone,” to restore the structure in nine days.

Rebuilding the robot in its condition would probably take about six weeks.

The teens are counting down until their next match with strong support from the sidelines.

“We’re incredibly thankful for the community and how much they’re helping us,” Pepoli said. “We wouldn’t be here without them.”

The First Robotics semi-finals will be held next weekend at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Qualifying teams will compete in the state championship at ECU in April.

No one was hurt in the wreck.

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