NIPIGON, ON ---- November 24, 2009 ---- I had the distinct pleasure to interview Nipigon’s Ava Walter recently and if you know her, the best words to describe Ava, are “infectious enthusiasm”. That phrase is for her alone.
I stopped by her place to learn about her volunteer journey for the Winter Olympics which according to the count-down sign on her fridge, there are “only 84 days to go to Vancouver 2010”. She was baking for an upcoming Christmas Craft show to help defray her personal costs of participating in Vancouver.
It was all I could do to resist the cookies, cookies as far as the eye could see!
Ava’s passion is curling. If she could be involved in curling 12 months of the year she would. Well, after all she does come from Al Hackner country, a two-time World curling champion born and raised in this small town in northwestern Ontario!
Ava started her journey to become a volunteer in the 2010 games in the curling venue more than one year ago. Amazingly the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) received 50,000 applications world-wide which included 10,000 in the initial 24 hours.
Her application must have overwhelmed the organizers with her experience. Ava has provided this same volunteer spirit at the Roar of the Rings in December 2005 in Halifax; three Canada Cups, the Men’s Worlds in 2007 in Edmonton. In fact she is going back to Edmonton for the Tim Horton’s Roar of the Rings at Rexall Place next month.
Her first successful contact with the Olympic organizers recruitment team was participating in a telephone interview way back in April 2008 and she has been on “cloud 9” ever since. An RCMP security clearance, and an August training session were the next positive steps on her journey. VANOC observers, themselves volunteers recorded positive and negative qualities that the prospective volunteers exhibited during the training sessions. The successful volunteer would need to demonstrate that he or she was a team player in a team environment which was the essential goal.
To Ava, being in Vancouver at the Olympics helping with this event is truly “living the dream”. She loves the fact that curling, a true amateur sport, will be proudly represented by such great Canadian athletes.
She outlined to me the grueling path our best curlers have to follow to get to represent Canada. It is a strong curling team that makes it all the way to these Olympics.
She told me the venue where the curling will held, is breathtaking. It seats approximately 6,000. Ava has already participated in the World Junior Curling at this very same facility back in February 2009 where this venue was put through the paces to be ready for the world stage. “The scoreboard is state of the art”, Ava explained.
The community is solidly behind Mrs. Walter, with the Royal Bank locally, and as a national partner of the Olympics. She has even had a local donation come her way. Both her time and personal costs are all out of her pocket. She is a true volunteer!
This super volunteer may also have an opportunity to extend her Olympic experience at the Paralympics 12 days later at this very same venue, and to top this off, it appears that Ava has also been invited to participate in the Opening & Closing Ceremonies. Her dream is becoming the once –in- a- lifetime dream that even she could not have imagined!
Look for Ava when you settle –in to watch the Olympic Curling events. She has 13 shifts from 2:30-11:30 pm, between February 16th -February 27th, including a well-deserved day-off on the 24th.
You can be sure that her infectious enthusiasm will inspire all the fans and curlers at the 2010 games.
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