Three weeks ago, I wrote a post about my experiences as a Pan Am volunteer. Now I’m back to share my experiences from the Parapan Am Games.
But first off, I wish to talk about parasports in general. I think it’s awful that these athletes, who work equally as hard as able bodied athletes, and who perform spectacularly well, fail to receive even a portion of the attention heaped upon other athletes. Well, Toronto 2015 thought the same way, and tried their very best to treat these athletes equally. They received television coverage, were cheered on by decent sized crowds (they still could have been bigger – for Pan Am the stands were packed) and were treated to awesome opening and closing ceremonies.
As a volunteer and spectator I can tell you that watching these athletes compete is unbelievably inspiring, and being able to cheer them on to medals is such an awesome feeling!
My first volunteer shifts were for the Opening Ceremony which was hosted at my venue. I got the chance to be a part of the athlete parade team and cheer on all the athletes before they went out into the stadium!
For my next three shifts, I was part of the last mile crew. Those are the volunteers who stand at key points outside of the venue to help direct spectators and answer questions. Don’t worry, I still got plenty watching time. For my last shift, I was stationed in the athletes tent and helped make sure the athletes had everything they needed coming off the field. I also escorted the winning athletes to the medal room. I had a lot of fun 🙂
If you haven’t heard, there’s a whole pin craze going on among sports volunteers. I’m not sure exactly when it stared, but its been going on for decades. People volunteer and then buy, sell and trade pins. Though I didn’t get caught up in the frenzy, I still ended up picked up some awesome pins.
The one on the bottom row in the middle is the Canadian ParaPan team pin!
I had such a great time volunteering and being ‘the face of the games’! An article in the Toronto Star proclaimed that “anyone who has been near the volunteers, orange-shirted balls of energy, knows they have super-humanly high levels of enthusiasm. These are the people that transfer Pachi’s energy into a human comestible”. Humourously exaggerated, but I’ll take it 😀
I’m so so glad I volunteered as it truly was the experience of a lifetime. I’ve always had crazy Canadian spirit but I’ll forever be going “Go Team Canada and Viva Pan Am!” I’m so proud of all our Canadian athletes and can’t wait for my next volunteering opportunity!!
** All photographs are mine 🙂 **