A Special Day for Local Kids

Orange County THINK Together Program Visits Galaxy Training

THINK Together Field Trip

Photo Credit: 
German Alegria

Randy Barth
looked around The Home Depot Center on Tuesday and couldn't help but smile.

The founder
and CEO of THINK (Teaching, Helping, Inspiring, Nurturing Kids) Together summer
enrichment program, held in conjunction with the Santa Ana Unified
School District, was
looking at almost 10,000 children, ranging in ages from kindergarten to the
eighth grade, who were on hand to watch an LA Galaxy practice. For many of the
youngsters Tuesday's event, which also featured an appearance by the Radio
Disney Road Crew, marked the first time they had seen or been inside the
facility, and the expressions on their faces said it all.

"Getting
out here, seeing the pros, being in this stadium and this atmosphere is very
special to them," said Barth, who estimated the trip was about 6-8 weeks
in the making. "Anytime we have something all coming together like this
it's very exciting. It's hard to see it all in one place.

"It's
a real thrill."

THINK
Together operates more than 200 programs throughout Southern
California and provides daily academic support, homework
assistance and enrichment activities including physical fitness to more than
50,000 educationally at-risk students. Cathie Olsky, deputy superintendent for
the Santa Ana Unified School District, said the partnership with THINK Together
came about as a result of federal grant money and private donations that helped
make up for cutbacks in state funding.

"Otherwise
they would have nothing," Olsky said. "This is fabulous for all these
kids. We're feeling like we're their special guests, and they're performing for
us."

It was a
meaningful day as well for Olsky, who admitted she is a big Landon Donovan fan
and even got the Galaxy star to sign his name on the shoulder of her white
jacket.

"It's
amazing for the kids to take a field trip, to come to a place probably most of
them have never been to," she added. "They play soccer and they love
soccer. It's a very special event."

The players
said it was a memorable day as well. Donovan and Sean
Franklin spoke briefly to the youths at the end of practice,
and Franklin
told them about watching a Galaxy practice at the Rose Bowl when he was a
member of his old club team, Antelope Valley Heat, when he was 12 or 13.

"It
was kind of cool then, and I'm sure it is for these kids today," Franklin said. "It's
nice to see them out here."

"It's
great," Alan Gordon said. "I wish I could have done something like
this when I was a kid. It makes it all worth it ... it's what it's all about.

"The
support we get from the kids make it a really special day. I hope they all
enjoyed it."