Footsteps Sports Club is an anti-drug, anti-gang, pro-youth campaign, started and run by Dr. Martin Marks ("Dr. Footsie") in Compton, California.
Dr. Marks started his podiatry practice in 1969, in an impoverished area where he felt he might do the most good. In 1972 he started sponsoring inner-city youth sports, and also created Footsteps Sports Club, Inc. He wanted kids to feel they were part of a team, and to impress postive values on them: education, teamwork, sobriety.
In the hope of producing a cable access show, Dr. Marks started to create a number of cartoon characters. The intent of the show was to both educate the public and to increase his practice. The show never materialized, but the characters remained.
By the early 1980s, Dr. Marks was using characters such as Betty Bunion, Sad Sock, Humungous the Fungus, and Willie Wart to promote foot care in local schools. The local schools, however, were more interested in drugs and crime. As these were also passions of Dr. Marks, the characters began to focus less on foot care and more on social issues.
By the early 1990s, Dr. Marks had created an 8' sneaker, using a fifty-foot firehose for the shoestring, and four other characters had been reborn as giant puppets. These puppets were for his Soles of Sorrow (SOS) theater, and were known as New Feet on the Street.
Up to the mid 1990s, virtually all funding for Footsteps Sports Club had come out of Dr. Marks' own pocket. At the same time, his client load dwindled down to two or three patients a day. Fortunately, by 1997, the Club had received numerous donations of old equipment, including several computers, monitors and printers, as well as image and silkscreen presses.
Much of the donated goods were unusable without considerable effort and expense (and some were simply obsolete and unusable). However, they did serve to raise a few dollars from used equipment dealers, or as trading goods for other, usable equipment.
To Be Continued . . .