IT could all come down to being handed a bottle of water at just the right time, according to Vanessa Restrepo, member of the Karate Senior National Team, as she describes the critical role that volunteers play in the Games. With the years of training and sacrifice that go into preparing for competition on the world stage, distractions of any kind are unwelcome.
The 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games will be the largest international multi-sport event ever hosted in Canada — with more athletes and sports than the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. More than 20,000 volunteers will be the backbone, the ambassadors and the heart of the Games — from ushering spectators to their seats, to getting up close and personal with some of the world’s best athletes and artists.
Exciting volunteer positions are available in 16 Ontario municipalities, from Welland to Minden Hills, Hamilton to Oshawa. Volunteers will prepare the field of play for athletes, work as medical staff and take active roles in protocol, accreditation, press operations, Opening and Closing Ceremonies and much more. Rather than watch competitions on a screen or from the stands, people from the Greater Golden Horseshoe region have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of the action!
Thousands of people have already applied and interviews are underway. Javier Perez-Aguirre, an Argentinian born pre-Games ambassador helping the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) since 2011, recently participated in an event welcoming consulate representatives from the 41 countries and territories participating in the Games. While working at the registration table for the event, he shared his thoughts on volunteerism in Canada.
“My reasons for volunteering are not uncommon to Canadians that have a culture and history of volunteerism,” explained Javier. “However, in my country of Argentina and this is true for most of Latin America, people spend the majority of their time working, with little or no time dedicated to unpaid work, simply because of the uncertainty and harsh conditions that exists in our countries.”
Javier has been in Canada now for about five years and says he has dealt with the culture shock by embracing volunteerism wholeheartedly and changing his motto from “what’s in it for me” to “where can I make a difference.” He explains that he now spends a lot of his time off, coaching his son’s baseball team, volunteering for the Games, all the while running his own business.
Another example of a passionate volunteer and supporter of the Games is Tatiana Tello, a native from Peru now living in Canada with her husband and children. For her the Games literally run through her blood. Tatiana remembers her mother competing for about a decade in the ‘60s as a member of the Peruvian fencing team. These became fond memories she wishes to bring to life again by participating in the TORONTO 2015 Games and hopefully pass on new memories to her children. “My mother imparted her love of competition and sports to us and her example competing for her country was a source of great pride to the whole family,” shared Tatiana. “Amateur athletes deserve the best facilities and attention, so they can concentrate on winning medals and making us proud,” she added.
All Games-time volunteers will obtain access to exclusive promotions and events, including discounts on merchandise, as well as receive a keepsake uniform, training for their positions and a volunteer certificate from the Province of Ontario to help them stand out in today’s job market.
“You win and perform your best when you can visualize the outcome perfectly in your mind and then play it out in real life when it is your time to turn what you visualize into reality,” explained the Colombian born Restrepo. “You don’t want to have to worry about getting to a venue, meals or whether you will have enough water around to keep you hydrated during competition.”
For more information on the Games and volunteering, visit TORONTO2015.org/volunteer.