Kamloops trip inspires directors

A visit to Kamloops this past summer gave 2014 BC Seniors Games president Milt Kruger and his fellow directors a sampling of what the upcoming event will have to offer.

Langley is hosting the 27th annual Games from Sept. 9-13.

For the Langley group, their August 2013 excursion to the Kamloops Games was a sampling of what’s in store when roughly 3,500 athletes will converge on their community for the multi-sport competition.

Kruger spent three full days with 2013 Games president Charlie Bruce.

“The experience was certainly positive,” Kruger said. “We got a sense of the feel and excitement of the Games. The trip was tremendous value. It gave us something clear to work towards.”

There are 25 sports included in this year’s Games, and they range from whist and crib to swimming and bowling.

One of those who visited Kamloops was Howie Vickberg, a former Langley Township Councillor who is the protocol director with the 2014 Games.

In Kamloops, he focused on the track and field portion, mainly because of his own interest in distance running and athletics.

“That was really neat,” Vickberg said. “It was very inspiring.”

The age for participating athletes is 55-plus.

The “plus” part includes athletes as old as their 90s, Vickberg noted.

“It was pretty neat watching folks well in their 70s, 80s, and when it came time for their actual race, or to do what they were doing, it was like a switch went on, and the competitive juices kick in,” Vickberg said. “It was really neat watching the interaction. A lot of these folks have been doing this for a long time. It was like watching a reunion in a sense, as well.”

Referring to the 2010 BC Summer Games, and 2013 Special Olympics BC Summer Games, both successfully held in the community, Vickberg said Langley has the amenities and dedicated volunteers to be able to handle an event of this magnitude.

“We more than hold our own,” he said. “As a community, Langley has really evolved with our sports facilities. The LEC is sort of the culmination of that, but we’ve got McLeod [Athletic] Park and over the years we’ve really added to the facilities in Aldergrove. An event like this is such a great use of what we have.”

The push is on for volunteers.

People can register online at 2014bcseniorsgames.org and then clicking on the “contact us” tab on the right hand side of the screen. They can also drop by the Games office to sign up in person. Located at 20560 Fraser Hwy., the office is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 604-533-8065.

“Without volunteers, we have nothing,” Kruger said.

Games operations manager Shirley Stewart said helpers are needed in a variety of positions.

“We need everything from helping with registrations to sports events, medical, and secretarial duties, to ceremonies, and compiling results,” Stewart said.

She estimated that 1,400 to 1,600 volunteers will be needed before, during, and after the Games – primarily immediately before and during.

“We can do it. This community always comes through,” Stewart said. “If they don’t have time during the summer, that’s okay, they can volunteer for positions during the actual Games,” which happen the week after Langley Good Times Cruise-In.

“We are open for business now… We’d love to have you come in to register and help us out,” Stewart said, noting volunteers are also needed to help out ahead of time in the organization of the games.

“We can use your help… whatever you’re interested in and capable of giving,” she added,  “Volunteers can be any age group, as long as they have the time and the ability to held. That’s all we need.”

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