Steps for Students rallies Catholic schools, churches, community

September 26, 2017

Members of the David Guite family stand with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo (center) and Principal Khanh Pham (left) and Father Vincente Agila (right of Cardinal DiNardo) from Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Galena Park who won the David Guite Spirit Award at Steps for Students 2017. Photo courtesy of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Galena Park.

HOUSTON — The countdown is on for the 2018 Steps for Students 5K Run/Walk.

On Saturday, Feb. 17, fans of Catholic education will descend upon downtown Houston for this annual event that unites and celebrates the 59 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. More than 13,000 people gather at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on the morning of race day to share their school spirit and bring awareness to the benefits of Catholic education for students across the Archdiocese.

Diana Dávila Martinez, who has co-chaired the event with her husband Román for 8 years, said that Steps is not only the largest event in the Archdiocese, it also has grown to be a top-tier race in the city of Houston.

“Steps is a fun, yet very effective way to empower each school to raise funds to support their own needs and projects which culminates with a powerful demonstration of solidarity when all our Catholic schools come together on race day,” Martinez said. “We are grateful for the generous support of businesses in our community that benefits the Archdiocesan Tuition Assistance Fund. All the creative ways we’ve promoted the race has led to incredible awareness of Catholic education via radio and television media coverage, social media sharing, and multi-faceted publicity and marketing.”

One of the goals of the Steps for Students Steering Committee this year is to strategically increase support for Steps from parishes that do not have schools.

Martinez said everyone in the Archdiocese benefits when more children have access to a Catholic education and when Catholic schools have the resources to provide quality, faith-based learning. As an event for the whole Archdiocese, all churches can be involved in making Steps a success.

Megan Dillingham, director of Advancement at Christ the Redeemer Catholic School (CtRCS) in Northwest Houston and a member of the Steps Steering Committee, shows how her school unites the parish and school through service.

“We are so grateful for our school parents, Knights of Columbus Council 8771 and CtR Ladies Auxiliary,” Dillingham said. “They really ‘step up to the starting line’ and go above and beyond in making certain Steps is successful, not just for CtRCS, but at schools throughout the Archdiocese. We’re so proud of our volunteers, from all churches and schools, who stuff race packets and fold T-shirts for distribution; man pick-up stations; step up to set up school tents and tables on race day; and help hand out refreshments post-race. It takes a village, but our school volunteers across Houston get it done!”

Last year, Dillingham helped guide CtR in its fundraising efforts to raise more than $85,000, the most money raised by a race team, and build a monster team of more than 600 participants. Dillingham attributes this accomplishment to the school’s annual fall Chili Cook-Off, a yearly tradition for the entire CtR parish community, but she also credits their achievement to something that makes most Catholic schools thrive: school spirit.

“All of us like to show a little school pride,” Dillingham said. “I admit to being super proud to show off my Crusader spirit on race day! I think all of our families are like that — across the Archdiocese. There’s truly no easier way to show support for Catholic schools in Houston than to register, join us on race day and easily make a fun, festive investment in the future of Catholic school education in Houston.”

Khanh Pham, principal of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Galena Park, knows this fact all too well. His school won the David Guite Spirit Award in 2017, the highest award given out which honors Guite, who was one of the Steps for Students founding committee members. Pham and Our Lady of Fatima have a special connection with the award’s namesake, David Guite.

“It was a dream come true to win the David Guite Spirit Award,” Pham said. “Mr. Guite is a former principal at Our Lady of Fatima, whose vision and passion has inspired and changed Catholic school education in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. To finally bring the award home means so much to our school and the Guite family.”

The David Guite Spirit Award rewards the school with the most school spirit. Pham said Our Lady of Fatima was blessed with an abundance of support last school year and the biggest hit was that their school mascot, Mustang Sally, made an appearance to support and run with their team.

“Our Lady of Fatima school community displayed school spirit throughout the year in preparation for the big day,” he said. “Students planned and participated in school events, such as pep rallies and fundraisers. School spirit banners were painted and displayed on campus, and all were welcomed to family night events. One memorable event was when our Texas First Lady, Mrs. Cecilia Abbott, visited to promote Steps for Students at our school. Mrs. Abbott is a former teacher and vice principal at Our Lady of Fatima.”

Martinez said one of the most exciting things about Steps is to see which school takes home the David Guite Spirit Award next. None the less, Martinez encourages all parishes, schools and families to join in the Steps for Students fun on and before Feb. 17.

“Everyone can participate in Steps for Students,” Martinez said. “It’s a fun event for the entire family and you don’t have to be a runner — you can walk or cheer on the participants! Please consider joining a school team or simply donate to the Archdiocesan Tuition Assistance Fund and be part of the biggest Catholic event in the city of Houston.”

Registration fee is $20 per participant through Jan. 31, 2018. For more information and to register, visit