Volunteers sought for games
Dave Dawson The Packet & Times All aboard! Mike Ladouceur, 2018 Ontario Winter Games Manager, and Gill Tillmann, chair of the organizing committee for the Orillia event, encourage people to help support the March 2018 event by buying tickets for a fund-raising cruise on the Island Princess slated for Aug. 23. For more information, call Tillmann at 705-326-8510 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Orillia is hosting the 2018 Ontario Winter Games in March. The four-day competition - the largest multi-sport event in the city's history - will feature more than 3,200 young athletes competing in 25 different sports.
While the provincial government provides $1 million to help bankroll the ambitious initiative, the local organizing committee behind the games has set a hefty fundraising goal to cover the many costs associated with the bi-annual event.
"We need to raise about $100,000 in cash prior to the games," said Gill Tillmann, the chair of the organizing committee. "We have set our sights high because it's our intention to offer free admission to all events. The venues are very costly. For example, for skiing, we, essentially, take over the ski hill for three days. We have to pay for every skier's lift ticket. For all athletes, we also cover accommodations, three meals a day, transportation to and from the events... it all adds up."
While sponsors are being sought for specific events and Jim Wilson Chevrolet has stepped up as the event's major corporate sponsor, Tillmann said the $100,000 target is over and above those efforts.
The committee's first major fundraiser will be a boat cruise on the Island Princess. The Aug. 23 event will mark 200 days to the start of the event's opening ceremonies. Cost for a ticket is $50, which includes the cruise, hors d'oeuvres and entertainment by Orillia singer/songwriter Cassie DaSilva.
"We're hoping to have 150-plus people join us on the cruise which will be a great social evening for a great cause," said Tillmann. "It's also a great way for people who are interested in becoming a volunteer to meet people on the organizing committee and talk about where they might fit."
While the funds raised are critical, so, too, is having a healthy stable of volunteers. Tillmann said she is looking to assemble a group of 600 volunteers to help ensure the events run smoothly. To date, 200 people have registered to lend a hand, which is "fantastic" considering the games are several months away.
"There are so many different volunteer opportunities that there's something for everyone," Tillmann said, noting roles range from desk jobs registering athletes, to physical tasks such as directing traffic and moving equipment. "Our mission is to host a memorable, fun event and to do that, we need a lot of volunteers," she said. "For the majority of these athletes, it's their first multi-sport event. We want the athletes to have an opportunity to interact with one another, to offer a social component and we want to showcase Orillia and this area."
Not only will Orillia be showcased, the games will be an economic boon for the area at a traditionally slow time of year, said Games Manager Michael Ladouceur.
"It's estimated there is a $6-million spinoff from the games," said Ladouceur. "We will be filling up all the area accommodations, filling downtown shops and restaurants. Statistics indicate each athlete brings 1.5 people with them, so that means more than 6,000 people will be coming and we are excited to show them what Orillia and area has to offer."
For more information about the boat cruise or volunteer opportunities, call Tillmann at 705-326-8510 or email email@example.com.