Volunteers are the life blood of any event, especially one with the scope and scale of the 2015 World Championships. Ever since the world first came calling in 1989, residents of the Vail Valley have always responded with a tremendous outpouring of support, willing to share their time and talents to ensure that we always put our best foot forward.
Last month, we officially kicked off the volunteer recruitment effort for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and the response was no different. More than 500 members of our community from all walks of life turned out to learn more about the different volunteer opportunities that will present themselves during the course of the next 16 months. This certainly bodes well for the success of 2015.
It was truly energizing to see the excitement and enthusiasm that was present during the kickoff party, and it made me think once again about why the Vail Valley community is so giving of its time. What is it about our valley that makes its members so giving?
From a personal standpoint, I got my start at the Vail Valley Foundation as a volunteer during the 1989 World Championships. I have so many wonderful memories of volunteering, but I also remember working hard and not knowing all the answers. It was a challenge, but it began a new chapter in my life, which really brought me here today.
Another personal example comes from none other than Lindsey Vonn, who was a volunteer course slipper at the 1999 Championships. She was so excited to be involved in such a big event and the first-hand experience prompted her to promise herself that the next time the Vail Valley hosted a World Championships, she would be in the start gate, racing the course, rather than slipping it.
But there has to be something more. Very few of us have the opportunity to turn our World Championships volunteer experience into a career path, and even fewer have the ability to translate this into a competitive role. Volunteering is important for numerous reasons that benefit the community, the event and the volunteers themselves. When someone donates their time, the difference made is tremendous and it shapes our community for the better.
However, volunteering is a two-way street, and it can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps in making new friends, expanding your network and boosting your social skills.
For the 1989 Championships, we were fortunate enough to have 2,000 people sign up for 1,200 volunteer positions. Of those final volunteers, 75 percent came from Eagle County, while the remaining 25 percent were from elsewhere, including 10 volunteers from outside of North America.
In 1999, the overall volunteer number climbed to slightly over 1,600 full- and part-timers, staffing 76 full-time areas of the event, with a total of 3,000 applications that were returned for consideration. We anticipate that Team 2015 will eventually number more than 2,000 volunteers.
To have so many people interested in 2015 that were also involved in 1989 and 1999 speaks volumes about our community. While the World Championships are a huge international event that generates a great deal of excitement and attention, both on and off the racecourses, our volunteers are in it for more than just a uniform or the opportunity to rub shoulders with ski racing’s elite.
They are in it because they are extremely proud of their home, be it full-time, part-time or just for two weeks. They know that this is our opportunity to once again shine for a global audience and to reach out and shake hands with the world, welcoming them to our community.
Perhaps our very first 2015 volunteer, Susi Brenden, said it best: “I believe that the volunteers are the soul of Vail. I love my valley, Vail and Beaver Creek, and I feel so grateful to live here.”
If you haven’t already applied to be a volunteer for the 2015 World Championships, then I hope you will seriously consider becoming a member of Team 2015. Together, we can continue to bring the world to the Vail Valley and the Vail Valley to the world.
If you are interested in submitting an application to be a 2015 volunteer, check out www.vailbeavercreek2015.com. Everyone interested in being considered for a role with Team 2015 will need to complete the volunteer application form, even if they have previously contacted the Organizing Committee about volunteering for the Championships.
Ceil Folz is the president of the Vail Valley Foundation and president of the 2015 World Championships Organizing Committee. The 2015 World Championships are scheduled for Feb. 2-15, 2015.