The Games Makers of the Olympics

We don’t see them on the television. We don’t hear about the work they do. They are the 70,000 volunteers at the Olympics, who quietly make the games happen. The odd jobs they perform hold everything together.

Volunteers direct and welcome people to the right venue, so they don’t miss that key vault that wins the Women’s team gymnastics event, or the final stretch and wall touch for the heart pounding Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay in swimming. Volunteers transport athletes where they need to go, allowing them to focus on their sport rather than worry about where they need to be. They work with the tech teams to bring you as quick and accurate results as possible on your favorite events.

Does the Olympic planning committee in London comprehend the value of volunteers . . . take them seriously? I’d say yes, since they began recruitment back in September of 2010. Over 240,000 people applied to volunteer from the UK and around the globe. So, if you’re interested in volunteering at any of the future games, I suggest you apply early. I’d imagine language skills wouldn’t hurt, either.

They even have a “Young Games Makers” program for 16-18 year-olds (about 2,000 volunteers this Olympics) who get to do things like rake the sand on the beach volleyball courts. (Sounds very Zen.) Certainly couldn’t hurt the high school resume: volunteering for the Olympics and getting a chance to build team working and communications skills. It could also build your teen’s confidence to know they are worthwhile to take part in something like this.

I think it would be wonderful to go to the Olympics, but when you volunteer, you’re actually part of a team. We all want to be part of something greater than ourselves, don’t we? Participating in the Olympics in even a small way must be a heady experience. To be part of a team putting on the biggest sporting event in the world? Awesome.

Volunteers were first used in the Olympic Games held in London in 1948 and have been ever since. They’ve become an integral part of the Summer and Winter and Paralympic Games. And now, we’re back in London where it started.

Do you know anyone who has volunteered at the Olympics? I’d love to hear their/your experiences. And as an aside, what are your favorite events?

If you’ve ever planned a big event, you know the value of volunteers. How have volunteers helped make your important days and events turn out well? 

Walking For Water

Loved doing Water Missions International‘s WALK FOR WATER this past Saturday! Great cause. Scenic 3.5 mile walk in downtown Charleston on a gorgeous spring morning. An excellent combination. I actually got a little sunburn. I’m so happy it is springtime.

This annual walk is meant to symbolize the trek that women and children have to make each day to collect water in developing countries. Everyone grabs a bucket and halfway thru has it filled to simulate this daily trek. Now I see why women carry jugs on their heads. It’s practical. Water is heavy!

Donations support Water Missions International, which is an engineering, Christian non-profit, to provide sustainable safe water and sanitation solutions to countries all over the world. There were 2,000 participants in the walk this year and volunteers from 11 states. They raised over $185,000. Based right here in Charleston, they have worked in disaster relief and development situations in over 40 countries.

 

 

 

Along the walk route, volunteers held up signs that gave random facts about the world water situation–including things you don’t really think about…such as going down to the river and having to watch out for snakes and crocodiles. Or on your way back with your full bucket, tripping over a rock and spilling it. So, back you go. It is easy to take for granted, the clean water that comes out of our taps every day.

Here are some photos of a Water Missions’ filtration system and the difference it makes.

 

 

 

 

 

In 2005, the United Nations reported lack of safe water and sanitation to be the greatest cause of illness, and often the major cause of death following a natural disaster. And water-related diseases are believed to cause 90% of the sicknesses in developing countries.

Nearly a billion people in this world don’t have access to safe water. Next time you’re in a stadium for a game or a concert try to grasp how many that really is. Look around. It’s hard to fathom even a number much smaller. A couple years ago, my husband got tickets for us to see U2 in London for our tenth anniversary. It was at Wembley stadium, which has like 90,000 seats. I doubt that I’ve ever been able to see that many people all at once. But that’s a drop in the bucket.

Water Missions has a little quiz on their website about water. It’s 30 seconds. Take it. See how in-the-know you are.

Bring your kids next year. Bring your dogs. And when you’re finished with a nice, healthy walk..there are good ‘ol barbecue sandwiches from Home Team, waiting. Just wouldn’t be Charleston without that.

What are some of the walks or runs that you have done for a good cause?

More To A Marathon Than Running

The Old Running Shoes

A month into the new year. How are the resolutions going? I could be wrong, but seems to me that ‘becoming healthier—or more specifically, ‘losing weight’ is the typical numero uno of resolutions.

If you are looking at options to prevent getting bored on your treadmill or are feeling alone on your quest for fitness, here are some ways to get in shape, meet some people and do something good for the charity of your choice all at the same time.

Sports Races

Marathons and Half-Marathons. A friend of mine’s, husband—Steve Minnich—recently ran in the Suntrust Richmond Marathon in Virginia. Typically, each race has an official charity that you can sign up to support. But you can also choose one of your own—as Steve did, running on behalf of the Winston-Salem street school (WSSS)—a cause with which he was already involved.

This street school helps disenfranchised kids finish high school and receives no public funds. It currently enrolls 30+ students who have dropped out or have been expelled. The kids are mostly from broken homes and impoverished neighborhoods, from families with histories of drug and alcohol abuse, many are teenage mothers or fathers. At WSSS, they find teachers and mentors who give them hope for their future.

Steve raised over $3,000 for the street school and he and his wife, Michelle, also tutor there. Funds and action hand-in-hand.

Triathlons, Century Rides (cycling) and Hiking Adventures: In addition to marathons and half marathons, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Sports Charity Training Program allows participants world-class, individualized training by certified coaches. And for those with busy schedules, they now have FLEX—an online training option developed by their coaches. Clinics are provided as well on topics like gear, apparel and injury prevention.

All the funds raised go to helping find better therapies and even cures for patients with cancer.

Walks: Look in the newspaper and you’ll most likely spot one for your area. In Charleston, I intend to do the Water Missions International – Walk for Water – in March. It is about a 3.5 mile walk where participants carry a bucket filled with water to symbolize the trek women and children make each day to collect water in developing countries. Water Missions is raising funds to provide safe water around the globe.

And this is just scratching the surface. What sports activities have you done that support a cause? What kind of event would you support?