From volunteer, to athlete, to living in paradise

From volunteer, to athlete, to living in paradise

Penticton is recognized as a sporting destination with amazing volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone of all successful sporting events whether they are local triathlons or international ski races. Volunteers can be any age, providing their time and assistance in many different ways. Baking treats, filing papers, stuffing envelopes, building jumps, checking in athletes, course marshaling, tour guides, first aid, picking up garbage, handing out water or just being a friendly face in a time of need. Athletes experience many different emotions during their sporting event, and to have a friendly face cheering and encouraging them to the finish, while guiding them in the right direction, can make the difference from being an average event on the tour circuit…to a fantastic event that is on every athletes “bucket list” of races to complete.

My story is similar to many other locals here in Penticton. I wanted to complete the 2000 Cananda Ironman. So in order to gain entry I volunteered for the 1999 Ironman race. This was one of my first volunteer positions for an international sporting event. I was amazed with the skill and precision of the organizing group and the community support. Locals told me where to go for a good cup of coffee, I learned from the athletes to practice swimming into the sunlight and save your legs for the run. By volunteering my eyes were opened up to so many new secrets. I fell in love with the heart and spirit of Penticton from completing that race and I’m happy to say this has been my home for fifteen years, and many volunteer hours have been given back.

By providing your time and skill in helping to run a successful event you open yourself up to meeting new friends, connecting with the community, having fun and of course gaining a new volunteer t-shirt. My favourite part of volunteering is strictly social, an escape from my daily routine, meeting new friends and becoming inspired….maybe one day soon I will complete an Ultraman Race. I have volunteered and travelled to many cities and I always come away with many cherished memories and unique experiences from helping with events. Ultimately my favourite time is when I volunteer here because I get to share my passion for Penticton with visiting guests just like others did for me.

Sporting events need people to make it happen whether it is a bike race, a dragon boat festival, or a major hockey championship tournament there are so many different sporting volunteer opportunities here in Penticton. Everybody has something to offer so I look forward to meeting you there and we can discuss our favourite local wineries. Even athletes enjoy a good bottle of wine!

Lisa Baadsvik

Photos courtesy of Challenge Penticton. For general volunteer info, visit the South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre.