Talk about making a slam dunk and bringing home the gold.
That's just what those involved in bringing the Arctic Winter Games to the Kenai Peninsula in 2006 have done.
Anyone who has ever doubted the value of dreaming big, working hard and tapping into the "unity" of community should think again. The hundreds of volunteers involved in the bid effort have proven that formula to success. None of the elements alone would have gotten the job done. Together, they were unbeatable.
In fact, what impressed the members of the Arctic Winter Games International Committee who made a site visit to the peninsula earlier this year was "the degree of community commitment and thorough understanding of the Games the bid committee demonstrated in (its) written submission and during the selection committee's tour."
The peninsula faced stiff competition from Fairbanks, which hosted the Games in 1982 and 1988, and Juneau. All three communities demonstrated they were "more than capable of hosting the Games, making this a very difficult decision for the committee," said Gerry Thick, president of the committee, in a press release issued last week.
Which, of course, makes the peninsula's selection all the more meaningful.
But, as those who worked on the winning bid have acknowledged, now the real work begins.
It will be no small or simple task to get the peninsula ready for this prestigious cultural event and sporting competition, which is expected to bring an estimated 2,000 athletes from Alaska, Scandinavia, Russia, Canada, Nunavut Territory and Greenland to the peninsula. It took hundreds of volunteers to make the peninsula's winning bid presentation; it will take thousands to host the Games. Many of those thousands have already pledged their support; many more will be needed.
The benefits of the Games are expected to be enjoyed long after the last visiting athlete has left. There will be tangible benefits in the form of upgraded and, perhaps, new sports facilities. There will be intangible benefits in the form of unity of purpose and camaraderie that will bring residents from all over the peninsula together to host the best Arctic Winter Games ever. There will be the life-changing experience of meeting people and establishing friendships with others who live in the far northern reaches of the world. And there will be the unique opportunity to showcase the peninsula's rich cultural heritage, as well as learn more about the arctic cultures of other countries.
So, congratulations to all those who played a role in securing the peninsula's bid for the Games. You did a great job. You showed the Arctic Winter Games international committee the best of the peninsula -- and that isn't its breathtaking scenery, magnificent fish runs or abundant wildlife. The best of the peninsula is its people, who know how to come together and make things happen for a good cause.
While the games are still three years away, peninsula residents have no time to rest on the laurels of winning the bid. There's lots of work to be done. We hope all peninsula residents will want to be a part of this exciting event.
Again, great job to all those who weren't afraid to dream big, work hard and get an entire community to support their vision that the Kenai Peninsula was indeed the perfect place to host the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.
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