Los Angeles, CA — Los Angeles Jordan High School has a bit of a reputation . . . for turning out world-class track athletes.

Think Olympians Flo Jo and Kevin Young.

But as often happens in life, things change, and the Bulldogs were no longer producing top tier runners.

Sheron Butler, who was the head track coach at South Gate High School and a Jordan High rival in the Eastern division, noticed and wondered what was happening.

Lack of funding and participation by the students, he subsequently found out. Thinking back to his own youth growing up in South L.A. and remembering the challenge of purchasing equipment, Butler applied for the school’s top coaching job and got it at the beginning of 2008.

He said things were beginning to shape up. The school got a brand new track, and was preparing for a promising season. Recruitment was good, and then disaster struck in November. A shed containing all the team’s track equipment–valued at about $35,000–burned due to an electrical malfunction.

“It’s very bittersweet,” Butler said. “We just got a new all-weather track. We’re the first in the Eastern League to have one, and now we may not even be able to run a meet at the school.”

Disappointed but not defeated, Butler and his team have begun a series of fundraising activities to try to replace their uniforms and equipment and hopefully salvage the 2008-09 season, which begins March 7.

“We’ve started a letter writing campaign and are doing a fun run Feb. 21 beginning at 9 a.m. at the school,” Butler reported.

He has challenged the team to run 40 laps in three hours, and they will collect pledges and donations for each lap run.

“They can run, jog, ride their bike or whatever, and anybody in the community is welcome to come,” said Coach Butler, who is extremely optimistic about this year’s team.

About 115 youngsters signed up and about 39 actively participate, which is more than have been on school teams for the last five years combined, noted the coach.

Butler said the team includes a heavily recruited junior who runs a 10.5 in the 100 meters; a high jumper who cleared 6-3 last year, and a team captain who should easily take league in the 100 and 200 meters. “I also have some freshmen stepping up, who are going to play a valuable part as well,” Butler added.

But first Jordan has got to walk before the team can run.

Anyone interested in making a donation to the track team should contact Butler at (310) 903-3038 or at butler_sheron@yahoo.com.