Volunteers made the difference during Special Olympics

The Star-News, McCall, ID
Letters to the Editor:

Volunteers made the difference during Special Olympics

To the Editor:

Last week, McCall was once again was host to the world. Ponderosa State Park was the site of the snowshoe competition for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games with 280 athletes from 49 countries competing in a track meet on snowshoes. The event was a resounding success.

As the venue director for the snowshoeing event, approximately 12 days before the event started, I found myself sitting at my desk with tears in my eyes, needing to fill 220 volunteer shifts during the five day event. I put the call out to the community.

Twenty-four hours later, I found myself sitting at my desk with tears in my eyes wondering what I would do with all of the people who answered that call. What a fabulous problem to have.

So many people responded, I was sure that we could have held all seven of the Winter Games sporting events here in McCall.

Try as I might, I did not get all of the calls and e-mails returned. Please know that I sincerely appreciate each and every call and e-mail that I received.

I do not have the words to express how proud I am to live in this community. The technical delegates and international officials were absolutely blown away at the quality of volunteers and the level of service the volunteers provided at this event. Many of the coaches have been to several world games and were extremely impressed by the volunteer effort.

Many of the volunteer jobs required standing outside for eight hours, while keeping track of which events were going on and escorting athletes or coaches to the proper areas.

One race had more than 27 heats, with up to eight racers in each heat, and as many different languages as a busy day at the UN. Other volunteers worked on staging races and award ceremonies for every single race. Yet, and to me this is the most wonderful part of all, at the end of the day a stream of volunteers would thank me for the opportunity to spend their time with the athletes who gave their heart and soul to compete. McCall, Valley County, Adams County and beyond, thank you.

To those volunteers who were with me from the beginning, always calling asking for more to do, driving things up and down the hill for me, thank you. To Robb Bryant, Dennis Coyle, Richard Taplin, Terri Bryant, Matt Lindy and all the park staff, this could never have happened without you.

To Idaho State Police, Valley County Sheriff, McCall Police Department, Payette National Forest, McCall Fire and EMS, Donnelly EMS, McCall Memorial Hospital, and the Idaho National Guard, thank you.

To Tuck Miller, Kevin Kent, Steve Jones, and Vince Cavanaugh for doing what was noted as “the best announcing ever” at a Special Olympics World Winter Games, thank you.

To the McCall Outdoor Science School who showed up at a moments notice with snowshoes for athletes whose luggage had been lost, thank you. To the Shore Lodge, all of the area hotels and the Toll Station, thank you.

Lastly thank you to my family. My husband, Ed, who did whatever I asked, no matter how late or how early. To my children Bryce and Bennet who are two of the best, hardest-working volunteers I know.

To my brother Eric Holzer, whose supreme organization and confidence helped navigate the event for 49 coaches, even when he didn’t always speak their language.

And to my Aunt Kay who worked at the event during the day and made sure my family had dinner when the day was done, thank you.

Erin Roper, Snowshoe Venue Director, Special Olympics World Winter Games

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