FieldTurf now provides soft landings for more than 160 pre-school children playing in the “Kid’s Cave” at Washington State University. In April the 16- by-21-yard carpet was installed in the alcove beneath the WSU Children’s Center, formerly Rogers-Orton Dining Hall. The same rubberized synthetic material covers WSU’s football and baseball fields.

Judi Dunn headed the successful effort to collect 5,500 pairs of running shoes to qualify for a $20,000 grant from Nike and the National Recycling Coalition.

“I think I personally touched each shoe,” says Dunn, who is WSU’s recycling education coordinator. Rubber from the discarded shoes is chewed up and used in the FieldTurf base.

The drive started in November 2001. Collection sites were set up on campus, in downtown Pullman and Spokane, and at WSU Tri-Cities. From the beginning, Dunn had the Kid’s Cave in mind for the Nike grant. Students in marketing were enlisted to help promote recycling tired running shoes. Plastic water bottles, bumper stickers, and Nike key rings were awarded for best displays.

Nick Cochran, senior in Fine Arts from Enumclaw, created the colorful floor-to-ceiling mural that covers the walls of the cave. The underwater scene features diving whales and dolphins.