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    Categories: Volunteers & Charity

Ready… get set… for Aug. 1

The gates are almost open for eager community-minded citizens to get in on the action without ever having to lace up or break a sweat.

In a few weeks, the call will go out for people to register to volunteer for next year’s premiere local sporting event, the 2012 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.

Dan MacLennan, the chair of the Games Organizing Committee, expects there won’t be any problems filling the slots.

“We’re just kicking off,” he said enthusiastically, adding he’s confident all of the roles will be filled, especially considering how people came out in droves to make the 2009 Special Olympics Alberta Summer Games run smoothly. “We’re looking for those same people to come out and be heroes and volunteer for the national games.”

Special Olympics is an international athletic movement that allows individuals with intellectual disabilities the chance to participate in a number of sports competitions. It was founded in the United States in 1968 and came to Canada the very next year.

It provides sports training and competition opportunities to more than 34,000 Canadian athletes of all ages and abilities with the help of 16,000 volunteers and trained coaches.

In Alberta, more than 3,000 athletes from 114 communities participate in both the summer and winter games.

The 2012 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games will be held in St. Albert from Tuesday, Feb. 28 to Saturday March 3. More than 900 athletes and coaches (along with hundreds of their family and friends) from across Canada are expected to be in attendance here and the partner town of Jasper.

They will compete in sporting events including cross-country and alpine skiing, figure skating, speed skating, snowshoeing, floor hockey and curling.

Approximately 600 volunteers will be needed to perform and manage a variety of activities, events and tasks in the following categories: transportation, hosting/special events, medical, setup/teardown, event logistics, venue operations and security.

Prospective volunteers must be at least 16 years of age and will be required to obtain a police information check and vulnerable sector verification.

To aid in the process, MacLennan added that a website will be set up to make registration as easy as possible.

“It’s an opportunity to give back, have fun and see the incredible athletic level of the athletes. It really makes you want to get more involved down the road. It’s one of the most positive events I’ve ever been through.”

Starting Aug. 1, people can register online at www.stalbert2012.ca. The deadline to sign up is Oct. 28.

To find out more information, you can call the local organizing committee’s office at 780-458-4564.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.