March 13, 2009
They're Canada's GamesVANOC: Do what you can for Olympics and Paralympics
By ALISON KORN, SUN MEDIA
Every Monday morning in Vancouver, VANOC chief John Furlong meets the 10 to 20 excited new recruits joining the Games workforce. He preps them by explaining, "this is not meant to be easy."
"Celebrate your exhaustion," he tells them. "Let's not leave anything out in the quest to do this better than anyone's ever done."
If that sounds a bit competitive, yes, it is. Good.
The hardworking 2010 staffers will be 50,000 strong by next February when the Olympics begin -- but Furlong wants everyone in this country to get involved in the 2010 Olympics in some way.
The Games are not just about a group of elite organizers, he said this week, while celebrating the one-year mark until the Paralympic Games begin. Furlong is amazed by the commitment of people ecstatic for the chance to volunteer.
"It takes your breath away," he said. "People take one month, make their way to Vancouver at their own expense and find a place to stay."
Along with volunteer applications and astonishing ticket sales, what makes the Vancouver Games unique is the fact that every province and territory has partnered with VANOC and has thrown money into the pot. That means they'll each get their own special day highlighting them during the Games.
By contrast, the 2006 Turin Olympics were about only Turin, just as Salt Lake City in 2002 was about only that city.
"In Salt Lake City, there was no talk about New York or Miami," Furlong said. We're completely different. This is about the country."
Furlong also cheered the fact that a record 62 corporations are on board as sponsors -- not just shelling out for the rights to use the Olympic rings, but "in the trenches" putting in long hours on the VANOC project.
"This is a tough, tough project," he said. "We will succeed if everybody looks at this and says, yes we can, yes we will. Find something to do to contribute."
Selling fundraising calendars can be a tough way to make a buck, but when it works out? Wow.
Five of Canada's top female biathletes will each net about $20,000 after selling out their Bold Beautiful Biathlon nude calendars this season.
And a calendar promoting hockey moms against breast cancer has sold more than 5,000 copies in its first year, raising money for youth teams as well as the cause.
Significantly under-funded compared to their international biathlon competitors, Zina Kocher and her World Cup mates developed the plan to pose nude together to seek funds. The calendars were sold online and in person by the athletes as they travelled the world. After 5,000 sold at $25 each, an additional 1,000 were printed in January to meet the international demand.
"The response far-exceeded our expectations and we are so appreciative," Kocher said.
Also in the calendar business, Sarnia's Terry Doran, a financial consultant and head scout for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires, and business partner Shawn Harris are paying tribute to hockey moms while enabling athletes to raise money.
Their Hockey Moms Against Breast Cancer calendars have sold 5,000 copies for $20 apiece, with the team, organization or player receiving $7 and the Breast Cancer Society of Canada receiving $1. Next year they want to increase the breast cancer contribution to between $3 and $5, depending on whether customized orders are involved. Anyone who sells 40 calendars earns a Bauer composite hockey stick valued at $250. To learn more, visit www.hockeymomsabc.com.