SDSU ‘Greeks’ fix up Rancho Bernardo park to honor Chelsea King
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Several hundred San Diego State University fraternity and sorority members spent part of Friday sprucing up Rancho Bernardo Community Park.
In the afternoon, they were joined by hundreds in the community to form a sunflower design that was photographed from a helicopter. It was made in memory of Chelsea King.
The community service project concluded SDSU’s annual Greek Week, with fundraising efforts throughout the week dedicated to the Chelsea’s Light Foundation.
Last fall, the Greeks chose to support Chelsea’s Light because many members are from the Inland Corridor and knew King or her family, said Caitlyn Zang, assistant coordinator for fraternity and sorority life.
“They had a personal connection (with the foundation),” Zang said, adding when all fundraising is complete, about $20,000 will probably be donated.
Zang said they chose to do a service project in the park because the 17-year-old Poway High senior was murdered by a registered sex offender on Feb. 25, 2010 during an after- school run on a nearby trail.
Rancho Bernardo Recreation Center Director Teri Adams said she selected several projects for the college students to complete within a couple hours. They included sanding and painting the backstops behind home plate at each of the eight ball fields, along with dugout benches and shelves where players place their hats.
Students were also asked to remove weeds from field seven and in the cactus garden at Ed Brown Senior Center, re-level mulch on community park playground areas and repaint wording near storm drains, Adams said.
The donated effort is “a big thing” for the park since due to a tight San Diego Park and Recreation budget, Adams said she does not have the staff or resources to complete these maintenance needs on an annual basis.
“These (projects) make the park look nice,” she said, adding supplies were paid for by the city recreation budget and the Rancho Bernardo Recreation Council.
Sophomore Ronel Dalisay, the united sorority/fraternity activities director, said the service event was his “core project” for Greek Week.
“We felt it was a good idea, giving back to (the community),” Dalisay said.
Throughout Greek Week, members of the 30-plus Greek organizations were informed about Chelsea’s Light Foundation and its work to protect children from sexual predators, he said.
“We’re promoting awareness so it does not happen again,” Dalisay said.
The students also wanted to inspire those using the nearby San Dieguito River Park trails — where King was running last year — by placing plaques with inspirational messages the teen liked. Six messages were provided by her parents.
They included “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” by Benjamin Franklin; “To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first.” by William Shakespeare; and “If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” by Thomas Edison.
“Seeing the markers inspire you … (and) motivate you to keep going,” Dalisay said.
Senior Claudia Alamillo, a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma, said she wanted to participate “to have a good feeling when done, knowing you’ve made a difference.”
Senior Chris O’Donnell, a Zeta Beta Tau member, said sanding and painting benches at the baseball field was important to him because “it’s fun and helps the community.”
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