They will be the unsung heroes of the Games.
Hundreds of Canadians, the majority ordinary citizens, are signing up to volunteer for next summer’s Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in the Golden Horseshoe region.
As soon as the call went out earlier this year, long-time Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) employee, Robbie Roberts, was first in line.
“I just love volunteering and helping out in the community wherever I can,” said Roberts, who is in his 40th year with the city’s public transport agency.
Prior to becoming the upholstery department supervisor, Roberts drove TTC buses for five years.
“I know the city very well, so I will relish the opportunity to be a driver,” he said. “If I don’t get that, I will still be happy with whatever I am assigned to do. This is my city and I want to play my part in making the athletes and visitors feel welcomed here.”
An active volunteer at St. Matthew the Apostle Anglican Church in North York, the Jamaican immigrant and father of three was a Durham District School Board lunch monitor for eight years. He was also an active volunteer when Pope John Paul II visited Toronto in 2002 for World Youth Day events.
Retired Toronto District School Board educator, Eunice Chaderton-Downes, cannot wait for the Games to come to town.
“I am a people’s person which means that I will enjoy the opportunity to be given a task that involves interacting with people,” she said. “That’s my strength, but I am willing to do anything I am asked to do.”
A teacher in Barbados before migrating in 1969, Chadreton-Downes was a health records administrator in Toronto before going back to the teaching profession.
She feels the Games will inspire young people in the region to become more active.
“When you look around, far too many of youths are obese,” she said. “With the Games coming here, I feel it could help motivate them to get out and get involved in sports.”
Chaderton-Downes is quite active. She swims, does yoga and plays badminton at least three times a week at the Scarborough YMCA.
Games volunteers will prepare the field of play, take tickets, usher spectators to their seats, shuttle athletes and dignitaries to venues or participate in the opening and closing ceremonies.