Griselda Mustard of Soldotna signs up as a volunteer for the Arctic Winter Games, while Jack Brown, co-chair of the volunteer committee, assists her during a rally at Kenai Chrysler Center on Saturday. Roughly 3,000 volunteers are needed for the games.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Scores of people took the first step toward "releasing the spirit within" on Saturday during the Arctic Winter Games Volunteer Rally at Kenai Chrysler Center.
"Fishing is finished and football is over, it's time to roll up the sleeves and get busy. So, today we're trying to get as many volunteers as we can signed up," said Tim Dillon, General Manager for the games.
"The countdown has started. We're within six months of the games, so it's time to get excited," Dillon added.
Between 2,700 and 3,000 volunteers are needed to make the games work. Saturday's event added to the number of volunteers that have already agreed to assist with the games.
"We've already got 1,000 volunteers on the books," Dillon said.
Many of those 1,000 have signed-up online, but for those that hadn't, Saturday was a time for potential volunteers to find out all the different venues they can contribute to and there are many.
"We have 51 committees," Dillon said.
People could volunteers to assist with specific sporting event, administration duties, security or food services just to name a few venues.
Would-be volunteers filled out an application that included a background check, which according to Dillon was to, "ensure everyone has the proper credentials."
Although volunteers may still be signing up right up until the games begin, Dillon said he was hoping to have a large core of volunteers signed up by the end of October, so that in November they can begin implementing training programs.
"People from all over the world are coming here, so we have to be prepared to roll out the red carpet," he said.
Leah Rigall of Kenai was among those that signed up on Saturday and she said she was looking forward to contributing to the games.
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity to take part in an international event. I'll do anything I can to support the games," she said.
Rigall has been working in the guest services area for the last year. She said she was hoping some of those skills would be an asset to helping with the games.
"I've done a lot of large events," she said.
Also, Rigall is new to the area she only recently moved to Kenai from Florida. She said she thought helping with the games would be a good introduction to the place she now calls home.
"I think it'll be a wonderful opportunity to get to know people and the area," she said.
Griselda Mustard, another volunteer as of Saturday, said she also was excited about assisting with the games.
"It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to seeing all the athletes, meeting new people and making friends," she said.
Several new pieces of Arctic Winter Games merchandise were unveiled on Saturday. On sale there were long sleeve T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts for several events, including basketball, volleyball, soccer and hockey.
"We got these within the last month and eventually will have a shirt for each of the different sporting events that take place at the games," said Lin Kennedy, bookkeeper for the games.
Although several people signed-up on Saturday, more volunteers are still needed for the games. Jack Brown, co-chair of the volunteer committee said he was confident they would get all the bodies they need by the time the games come to town.
"My concern is having too many volunteers, rather than not enough," he said. Brown added that as the games get close, he is expecting interest in them to pick up markedly.
Tim Dillon said people being interested in participating in the games shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. These games only come to Alaska every 10 to 12 years, and when they return there will be other cities biding on them, so it may be 30 to 40 years before they return to the peninsula," he said.
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