This winter break, several USC students will travel to Africa with a team of 40 people to take part in “Steps over Swaziland.”SOS is a campaign intended to bring relief and awareness to Swaziland, a small country in Africa that has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS.According to Abhirukt Sapru, a sophomore majoring in business administration who will be taking part in the trip, statistics predict that by the year 2020, the AIDS epidemic could be responsible for the death of Swaziland’s adult population.“A lot of the funds and resources are going to much bigger countries with problems of less magnitude,” Sapru said. “What we hope that SOS will do is draw people’s attention to Swaziland and actually help people understand the real dire problems that are going on there.”One World Futbol Project collaborated with FUNDaFIELD, a non-profit organization co-founded by USC students Garrett Weiss and his brother, Kyle, to organize SOS.The organization fundraises to build soccer fields in impoverished communities. The One World Futbol Project joined FUNDaFIELD to provide highly durable — if not entirely indestructible — soccer balls to complement the fields, Garrett Weiss said.“We’ll be going to about five [community centers] and holding soccer tournaments there, doing clothing exchanges — that kind of thing for the orphanages — as well as giving out AIDS awareness information the entire time and lots of AIDS prevention resources,” said Garrett Weiss, a sophomore majoring in business administration.The USC students on the FUNDaFIELD team will be dribbling one of One World’s soccer balls across Swaziland — a journey that is approximately 130 miles.They will run about 10 to 15 miles each day and deliver the One World soccer balls, jerseys and HIV/AIDS resources at community centers for orphans along the way, Weiss said.FUNDaFIELD plans to construct a field at El Shaddai orphanage, the last stop on their trip.To some, the idea of devoting funds to developing soccer fields and distributing balls might seem to detract resources from solving the severe problems at hand, such as HIV/AIDS, said Tim Jahnigen, inventor of the One World Futbol.However, both FUNDaFIELD and the One World Futbol project acknowledge the significance soccer has on children in poverty, Jahnigen said.“Play and sports reinforce community and conflict resolution and all kinds of things,” Jahnigen said.Jahnigen said he was inspired to create a lasting soccer ball for the One World Futbol Project after watching a documentary about the children in Darfur refugee camps who resorted to playing soccer with balls made of trash. Although many relief efforts have been put in place to help these children, the soccer balls provided don’t last long before they are punctured or otherwise destroyed, he said.“Our vision is to support the work of organizations like FUNDaFIELD,” Jahnigen said. “If you can provide a ball that doesn’t go flat into an environment that is incredibly poor but full of children, it allows the children to play to their hearts’ content instead of until the ball is destroyed.”One World hopes to distribute one million balls to poor communities across the globe within three years, Jahnigen said. So far, around 15,000 balls have been provided through donations and their “buy one, give one” commercial program.“When I had the idea for the ball, it was only meant for children in harsh environments and the idea of making money off of it or making a business out of it was the last thing on my mind. It was just really thinking about children, their needs,” Jahnigen said. “That part of the story has always been the major driving force behind the project.”For SOS, Jahnigen said he hopes to be able to provide between 500 to 1,000 balls for the FUNDaFIELD team to deliver to Swaziland.“We’re all ecstatic, we’re all really looking forward to it,” Sapru said. “We all just can’t wait.”Weiss said he is also enthusiastic for the upcoming SOS trip.“Once you go to Africa, you are able to realize the effects of your work and you’re able to see what else needs to be done,” Weiss said. “When you go, you just get so excited to do more and I’m hoping that’s what comes out of this for everyone else on the trip.”
CASTAIC — With the ominous warning “Our day begins when your day ends” emblazoned on a black enamel coffin, sheriff’s homicide detectives served up a killer blend of chili at the first-ever Fun In the Sun chili cookoff at Pitchess Detention Center. Held in jail’s Jack Bones Equestrian Center, the fundraiser for the Santa Clarita Special Olumpics drew some two dozen cooks, some award-winning, some first-timers. “We’re hoping to clear about $10,000 today,” said Stephanie Wilke, who with India Inez organized the event. “We wanted to do something more family-oriented than just Tip-A-Cop and we’re hoping for bigger crowds next year. We have 23 booths with chili cooks and I’m sure the word’s going to get around so this event grows next year.” While most of the cooks carry badges, the elaborate booths showed that the participants included some skilled carpenters, decorators and, um, recyclers. A homemade stove fashioned from a metal commode and sheltered by a two-story outhouse was operated by Pitchess assistant facilities director Ken West, who handed out samples of “FSB Outhouse Chili.” A middle-of-the-road taste was what cook Wilson Lee from Sheriff’s Headquartets Bureau was looking for. The popular booth sported a military Meal-Ready-to-Eat package hanging from the sun shade. “I could have made mine hotter, but I want it to move. I want people to enjoy it,” Lee said. Tasters in the mood for spicy and hot didn’t have to look farther than the Hotter Than the Serengeti booth. Decorated with camoflage netting and finger puppets of wild animals, the booth served chili containing antelope meat, courtesy of chef Sgt. Michael Bailey’s aunt in Montana. “There’s three or four really good chilis out there,” he said, settling into the cool of the shaded booth. “I’m glad they did this. It’s such a good event and to raise money for the Special Olympics.” “I have two children who are healthy and I really feel I should be thankful and give back,” Bailey said. “We raise money for a good cause and we get to interact positively with the public. “When we see someone in a restaurant or here at something like this, it’s much better than the encounter they’re used to. This is such a positive thing, it’s a no-lose situation.” Doing their best to attract tasters with their bright floral sarongs, Danielle Caples and Dori McCoy danced in front of the Chili Chicks, where Cari Carlson stirred a sweet red mixture for sampling. The real intimidators were next door, where firefighters Philip Lourito and Mauriello Velasquez cranked a siren to bring attention to their collection of chili trophies. Traffic investigator Dennis Campbell of the Lancaster sheriff’s station was behind the cauldron of “Pepe’s Mystical Chili,” an homage to Deputy Pierre Bain. a motorcycle deputy killed in a crash in March. “This is my first competition,” Campbell said, “It’s a basic recipe, but I took my time cooking the tri-tip real slow and tender. No beans in this one.” Homicide detectives Larry Brandenberg and Tom Harris, the latter a retired investigator who came back to work cold cases, shared the credit for their spicy brew. “I’ve been cooking with this recipe for 16 years,” Brandenberg said, recalling a 1991 win at a previous sheriff’s chili event. “And Tom let us use his finger to stir it. Guess that’s our secret ingredient.” Four judges, armed with clipboards and serious expressions, went from booth to booth to judge appearance, performance and taste, escorted by Capt. Joaquin Herran and Lt. Chris Cahhal. “We wanted to make sure nobody tried to unduly influence them,” Herran said with a smile. — Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 firstname.lastname@example.org AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!