Step Forward Day Recap: Cross/Country Track

Step Forward Day

Sept. 11, 2013

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MALIBU, Calif. - Step Forward Day celebrated its 25th Anniversary at Pepperdine this past Saturday, and the Waves' athletic teams were out in full force serving the community.

Thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, as well as dozens of campus organizations, including classes, dorms, fraternities, sororities, and clubs, came together to assist nonprofit organizations, schools, churches and parks throughout Southern California.

Step Forward Day began in 1988 when two Pepperdine students recognized the need for volunteers in the local community and sought to encourage service among their peers. The projects began as small acts of service from helping to repair homes of local senior citizens to planting gardens at Webster Elementary School. Today the annual event has grown not only across Southern California, but also to communities nationwide as Pepperdine alumni step forward to help.

The cross country and track teams went to the Dream Center in Los Angeles. Sophomore Stasia Demick provided this account of her team's experience:

"The cross country and track teams loaded up onto the bus at 8:30 a.m., not after many completed their 5:30 a.m. long run, for the 25th Annual Step Forward Day. We headed to the Dream Center on infamous Skid Row.

"The Dream Center seeks to improve the quality of life in their local Los Angeles neighborhood through food and medical distribution, teen and adult rehabilitation programs, sheltering victims of human trafficking and transitional housing for homeless families, to name a few. Since the Christian charity began in 1994, it has `adopted' 147 blocks and reduced crime in their neighborhood by 73%.

"After learning about the Dream Center's mission, we traveled to Jordan Downs Park to spend a hot California afternoon making ice cream and playing with kids from the local projects and neighborhood. Some members volunteered to knock on doors and invite neighbors to come enjoy a fun community gathering in the park. A slip-n-slide and water balloon fight kept everyone cool during the midday heat.

" 'I wished we could have served for longer, the time went by so fast because we were having so much fun,' said freshman Gordie Thomas after his first Step Forward Day.

"The team made instant friends with the boys and girls. It felt more like an invitation to a communal game of hide-and-seek and water gun fights than community service. Once it was time to say goodbyes, hugs were exchanged and smiles remained on the faces of the children and my teammates.

" 'I would love to get involved with the Dream Center again, hopefully this year, and if not, when I graduate,' said senior track captain Chloe Levray. 'Getting a taste of a different culture I'm not used to motivates me to make a change and was the most inspiring part.'

"Step Forward Day is a reminder of the reciprocal properties of service. The Waves made a visible impact on the children and brought joy into a community known for crime and poverty. Consequentially, the team left influenced by the love and acceptance the children served, and will push themselves in competition and in daily life to exemplify the service, purpose, and leadership that the children shared with them on this special day of community building."



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