The South Klondike Highway in the Yukon, site of the Klondike Road Relay. (Marissa Tiel)

Editorial: Volunteers are the lifeblood of communities

The last time I pulled an all-nighter, I was in school, putting the finishing touches on some assignment or another. I swore that when I graduated, there would be no more all-nighters. That all changed this fall when I stayed up all night at the B.C./Yukon border to volunteer during a road running relay race between Skagway, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon.

This year was the summer of races for me. Training for a half Ironman, I had a lot of race experience to pack in to a relatively short summer season. It was a summer of firsts: first half marathon, first gran fondo, first snowed out cycling race, first open-water swim. During all those races, I depended on the volunteers manning the courses, the people handing out gels and water and bananas, the ones with unflagging optimism as sweaty racers grunted past.

So when my race season wrapped up, I signed up for the next race as a volunteer.

Checkpoint 6 of the Klondike Road Relay was staffed by a small but committed group of volunteers. When we showed up at the gravel lot in front of the “Entering Yukon” sign, the area was sparse, but in just a few hours, we transformed it into a busy checkpoint, complete with Christmas lights and port-a-potties.

The action got started around 1 a.m. and slowed down right around when the sun came up. Those hours went by in a blur. We saw 164 runners come in to the checkpoint and tag off their teammate to start the most lonely section of the relay in the dark.

I went into the night fully accepting that I would not get any sleep and that racers would be focusing on their runs, not acknowledging volunteers. But the handful of runners who did take the time to say thanks for volunteering before vaulting off into the cold Yukon night recharged my batteries.

So many of the activities and events we take part in are run on volunteer hours. Without people giving up their days, nights, weekends some of our favourite things just wouldn’t happen.

That’s why it’s so important to have events like the Spirit of Revelstoke awards, where we can recognize the faces making a difference in our community.

Twenty-nine volunteers were recognized last week and you can read more about them on page 7 and online.

They represent a much larger faction in our community, the lifeblood that keep events and activities going.

The next time you see a volunteer, thank them. And consider offering a bit of your time up as well.


 

@marissatiel
marissa.tiel@revelstokereview.com

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