Bc Senior Games 2007 - Volunteers Needed

By Kathy Reilly

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The City of Nanaimo is host to the BC Senior Games 2007 and a stellar group of individuals has been recruited for the organizing committee. At the opening reception of the Games Office, the excitement was palpable.

The BC Senior Games Society was organized in 1987 with the assistance of the Recreation and Sports Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs of British Columbia. The Society's mandate is to promote active participation in sport and recreation for B.C. residents, 55 years and over in both active and passive events, including contract bridge, floor curling, badminton, tennis, five pin bowling and horseshoes.

President Diana Johnstone's personality goes beyond charismatic. Her genuine smile is magnetic and people want to work with her. Di has been involved in previous Summer Games, the Port Theatre, Tourism Nanaimo and countless volunteer projects. She brings fun and excitement into every event. Di also knows how to delegate and make her team feel needed and important. With her at the helm, the 2007 Games will be a success for the athletes, the volunteers, the spectators and the city of Nanaimo.

The Games require 1,200 to 1,500 volunteers, says Anne Smith, chair of the volunteer committee. Approximately 200 people have signed up so far. Volunteers are retired men and women, people still in the workforce and students.

"If you know how to make a sandwich, how to stand guard, or have good people skills, that is all that may be required for some of the positions," says Anne. People with physical challenges are welcome, too, as they will be assigned positions that consider their limitations.

Some positions require special skills: medical people to work the first aid stations, photographers to record the events, and people with computer knowledge for registration and recording results.

The team of directors includes retired school principals, retired B.C. Hydro and Telus employees, former city councillors and people involved in tourism for many years. Some chairpeople are from communities outside Nanaimo, like Ed Peacock, chairs of the Floor Curlers Committee. Barb Ross, co-chair of the floor curlers, and her husband Charles started the Lighthouse Floor Curlers in Bowser.

"I like to volunteer because it is so much fun," says Barb. "You get to meet people from all over the province. My kids say I am the busiest retiree they know."

Young people are encouraged to get involved and the Nanaimo Youth Services has already signed up. With the current emphasis on lifelong fitness and the concern for increased obesity in children and teens, the Games can be a great learning opportunity.

"We would really like to have the young people see the seniors compete," says Anne Smith. "They may only be 15 years old now, but when they see 85 year olds compete, it will raise their awareness of being physically fit."

Eveline O'Rourke, another moving force in many Nanaimo events, has volunteered for the Senior Games before, but this year will be her first as a director.

She doesn't believe any healthy adult is "too old" to volunteer or compete in the Games. "Our oldest competitor is a badminton player who is 92."

Susan Carlson represents Friends of the Games, the fundraising committee. She has been Executive Director of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and many charities, including the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society. Sue's co-chair is Marilyn Sullivan, who has worked tirelessly for the Chamber and other local events.

While the Games do receive some government funding, additional monies are required from corporate sponsorships and donations. With 3,000 athletes, 500 coaches and their families participating in the games, the infusion of cash into the economy is expected to top $2 million. In the past, Nanaimo businesses have proven that giving back to the community contributes to their business' success and personal fulfillment.

Excitement surrounds the upcoming BC Seniors Games in Nanaimo. And Nanaimo citizens have proven they can pull together as a team.

Volunteering is a great way to get to know the community. Don't wait, pick up the phone and call the Games Office at 755-2007. Volunteers are warmly welcomed and can feel satisfaction and pride as a key participant in the community.

For more information, contact the Nanaimo 2007 BC Seniors Games Office - 755-2007 #118-575 Fitzwilliam St., Nanaimo or go to www.bcseniorsgames.org

Next Event: Torch Lighting Ceremony June 3, Maffeo Sutton Park

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