After nearly a month of rest and reflection, organizers of the 2006 Arctic Winter Games are back at work, moving forward with plans for the event to be held on the Kenai Peninsula.
About 40 Kenai Peninsula residents attended the 2004 Games in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, in late February and early March to learn from this year's organizers and observe a Games event firsthand.
"It was a good trip. We all had great experiences," said Loren Smith, executive director of the 2006 Games. "It was so good for the 35 people who had never seen an Arctic Winter Games before to be able to see it, touch it, feel it. As I said before the trip, you can tell people all about the Games, but until you experience it, it's a whole new thing."
Committee leaders and organizers began debriefing from their experiences last week and will continue meeting later this month for more reflection.
In particular, Smith said organizers are trying to streamline their planning process and identify ways they can make the 2006 Games even better.
"Out of (the first debriefing session) came many good reports and suggestions to improve upon Wood Buffalo (where Fort McMurray is located)," Smith said. "We're looking at improving transportation, reducing the number of volunteers to a manageable number and providing more orientation for volunteers."
Volunteers and fund-raising are two of the biggest challenges in preparing to host the Games, which bring thousands of athletes and spectators to a host community for a week of northern culture and sport.
In Fort McMurray, organizers raised about $6 million in preparation for the Games and had 5,000 volunteers
The 2006 host society is expecting to raise about $5.3 million in cash and in-kind services and will need about 3,000 volunteers.
Though it's a little early to start recruiting volunteers for the event itself, those interested in working with any of the planning committees are encouraged to call Jack Brown, volunteer committee chair, at 262-6335.
As for donations, it's never too early, said revenue development chair Bill Popp.
Already, the host society has collected about $1.7 million toward its $5.3 million goal. Private contributions account for about $600,000, including contributions from sponsors such as Aspen Hotels, Era Aviation, Wells Fargo, Alaska Communication Systems, KSRM Radio Group, McDon-ald's and Print Works and several individuals. The Kenai Peninsula Borough has contributed $200,000, and the city of Kenai has provided about $100,000 in in-kind services, Popp said.
In addition, Sen. Ted Stevens' office announced Wednesday that $3.35 million in federal money had been secured for facility improvements and operations for the Games. About $800,000 of that will count toward the $5.3 million operating budget, Popp said.
The host society has set up a number of contribution and sponsorship programs to encourage and reward donors. "Patrons of the Games" are those who contribute $5,000 to $100,000. "Friends of the Games" contribute $500 to $4,999, and "Volunteer Boosters" give $25 to $499. Each level of sponsorship has several internal giving levels with various rewards, ranging from advertising to logo rights to free merchandise.
Anyone interested in donating can visit the 2006 Games Web site at www.awg2006.org and click on the fund-raising link to choose from the donation categories for both cash and in-kind donations. For more information, donors can call the Games headquarters at 262-2006.
Also on the host society's "to-do list" are the creating of a timeline, increasing visibility in the community and hiring of additional staff members.
The host society is accepting applications for a marketing manager and a volunteer protocol manager, who they hope to hire by early May.
Organizers also will host booths at upcoming peninsula events, such as the home show and sports show, Smith said.
"(We want) to have awareness, have some merchandise items for sale and talk with people to get their input," he said.
The Games are scheduled for March 2006 on the Kenai Peninsula.
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