It takes a village
Volunteerism – it’s a way of life for me. I’ve volunteered in what feels like a million capacities, starting in my pre-teens. I remember my first fundraiser – it was for my swim team. I recall dressing as “Bubbles the Clown” and accompanying my swim team around town, entertaining children while my compatriots hit up their parents for money. I loved it! The quasi-anonymity of a costume helped bring me out of my naturally shy persona and highlighted my previously hidden skill for interacting with people – something that had previously scared the living daylights out of me.
(Sidenote: for those of me who know me as an adult, it might seem impossible, but I was a ridiculously shy child – I shed my shyness and changed into an obnoxiously loud person in high school!)
Volunteering brings me joy – period. It lifts me out of my regular life and into a new sphere of knowledge, ability, networking. I can’t think of a single instance of volunteering, whether hands-on or administrative, that was a bad experience overall, even with glitches sometimes. I’ve always maintained that I get far more out of it than the organization for whom I volunteered!
Which bring me to race volunteers. I can’t even find the words to express my gratitude for those who come out and help with a race. I make a big point of thanking every volunteer on the race course when I run – and an even bigger point of trying to express my gratitude to every volunteer who helps with my own runs, the Whole Health Mudcat Marathon Weekend and the Grand Caledonia Half Marathon and Harvest 5k.
It takes HUNDREDS of volunteers to put on a race this size. We try to reward our volunteers with shirts, goodies – and we feed you. Volunteers for community groups can earn stipends to benefit their organization – and the knowledge that they’re helping support community charities – the Dunnville Youth Impact Centre and the Cayuga Food Bank.
And, in the summer, I threw a big BBQ for my volunteer “family” - I’d love to see as many of you there this year as possible!
When all was done and dusted last year for the first-ever Whole Health Mudcat Marathon Weekend, I tried to cut and paste all the race reviews and comments on social media for my own records. I wanted to catalog response to the race, to learn what worked and what didn’t, from anyone who wanted to talk about it.
What I found was astounding. Most people loved the race, the medals, etc – but there were SO many comments on how wonderful the community was, how helpful, kind, and capable the volunteers were! My heart swelled – I probably cried at some point! (I’m mushy like that...) And, at that moment, our new race slogan was born: “First-class races, small town love” <--- because of YOU, you lovely volunteers, you!!
So, we’d love to welcome you to the volunteer family on race weekend – please consider signing up to share your unique talents and outlook to the Whole Health Mudcat Marathon Weekend. Please know that your contribution is so very valued – even if you can’t see how standing on a street corner, pointing the way for runners, or handling line ups of runners wanting to pick up their race bibs, stuffing race kits in advance, or placing medals around necks, or cleaning up the course can help in any material way. There are so many volunteer roles – for every ability and talent!
When you volunteer for a race, you represent it in a very real way to the runners. The runners (and walkers; we don’t want to forget about them! We love walkers!) may never have any interaction with the Race Director, or any of the executive planning team – but they will interact with an army of lovely volunteers.
They see YOU. Your smiles. Your friendliness. Your skills – and they are grateful.
As are we all.... THANK YOU – we look forward to seeing you on race weekend!