Local Kids Get a Glimpse of Athletes in Action

    Athletes tour children through the basement of the John McKay Center.

    February 28, 2014

    On Thursday morning, as rain threatened to dampen the day's events, guests from James J. McBride Special Education Center stepped on campus and cleared the skies with their beaming excitement. Their visit, organized by Athletes in Action Executive Director Michael Sylvester, brought students with developmental disabilities, accompanied by their peer buddies from neighboring ICEF charter school, to USC's campus for an afternoon of mentorship with student-athletes.

    The day began with a thorough tour of USC's brand new athletic facilities. Athletes led their 40 guests through the state-of-the-art John McKay Center and the newly renovated Heritage Hall, demonstrating how the Trojans train, eat, and study each day.

    Junior rowing captain and Occupational Therapy minor Elizabeth Turner took particular interest in the opportunity. An active member of Athletes in Action for the past two years, Turner noted the expressive nature of one young boy who, although unable to communicate with her verbally, was quite the charmer: winking, waving and head nodding throughout the day.

    Hand-in-hand with one young visitor, sophomore Football player Ryan Dillard also made personal connections during the visit. "I wanted to impact the kids and put smiles on their faces," said Dillard. "I try to get involved in as many events as I can."

    Following the tour, a picnic was served outside Heritage Hall and the children took a seat beside their tour guides. At lunch, the student-athletes fielded questions about USC, college, and sports.

    The day concluded with the children receiving goodie bags as mementos of their time spent with the Trojans.

    Athletes in Action is an international Christian ministry focused on equipping student-athletes with the tools necessary to become strong community leaders. USC's chapter works closely with the USC Athletics Community Outreach Program to affect change in the local area.