Each year, the Défi sportif AlterGo gets many people moving. However, this would be impossible without the help of our volunteers, who are the backbone of this major event. More than 1,000 volunteers will donate their time this year. To pay tribute to them as National Volunteer Week comes to a close, we spoke to Manon Charron and Julie Couture.
Manon Charron, a physiotherapist who works with children with disabilities, first participated in the Défi sportif AlterGo in 2010. The activity was perfectly suited to someone who was involved in school sports with young people. At the time, the Défi sportif AlterGo entrusted her with the logistics position at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. The following year, she became site manager of the same location. Later, she was in charge of results, and most recently, she has been in charge of the medal ceremonies.
“Sports have been an important part of my life since I was very young. And because I work with people with disabilities, I’m also very interested in adapted sports. It’s a perfect mix!”
These are the types of stimulating opportunities enjoyed by our volunteers! However, for Charron, there are other reasons to keep coming back every year. What is most important to her are the smiles. The event is very festive, and it’s hard to keep a smile from your face. There is something uplifting about volunteering one’s time for a good cause and seeing the results of one’s work. There is a lot to do over the ten-day period. There are also many reasons to smile and to be filled with wonder.
“When I asked some cyclist friends of mine to volunteer, they said yes. They were expecting a small event. But they discovered that it was much bigger than they thought, that it was international in scope, and that there were high-level athletes involved.”
It’s somewhat satisfying to show people who aren’t involved in adapted sport that the domain is much broader and greater in scope than they may have initially thought.
“I’ve been able to introduce my family, friends, and work colleagues to the world of adapted sport,” said Charron.
Indeed, her 24-year-old daughter is with her today. It has become a tradition for her to accompany her mother to the Défi sportif AlterGo every year.
Julie Couture: A satisfied volunteer
Our second volunteer, Julie Couture, is not new to volunteering. In the past, she has given her time to the Canadian Para Hockey Championships. However, this is her first year at the Défi sportif AlterGo. She is working as a timekeeper for the World Boccia Cup at Maurice-Richard Arena. Was she familiar with boccia before volunteering here? Yes, but only on a general level.
“This was the first time I ever watched a game of boccia. The precision and focus of the athletes is really fascinating. You don’t realize it when you see it from afar, but there’s a lot of strategy involved,” she said.
The fact that she’s enjoying her experience doesn’t surprise Couture. Given that her son has a disability, she has attended many adapted sport competitions. She knows what they are all about: always fun, always enjoyable. So she had no doubt she would enjoy herself here.
“What really blows me away is how well it’s organized. I’ve been to events like this in the past, where everything is packed into one day and it has to run like clockwork. Here, it seems effortless! And yet, an enormous amount of work has clearly gone into it. As volunteers, we feel welcomed, we receive good support, and we get to meet great people.”
There is no doubt that Couture would do it again. In her opinion, it is important that events like this take place. That is why volunteers play such a crucial role. As the parent of a son with a disability, she appreciates knowing there are no barriers for people like him, and that he can practise the sport or activity of his choice.
The Défi sportif AlterGo’s volunteers will put nearly 20,000 hours into the event. And while some volunteers sign up individually, others register as part of a group. Examples of groups include work colleagues, school groups, community groups, and sports teams. And there are many positions to fill! Whether it’s greeting athletes at the airport, working on the green squad, leading activities, preparing the site, serving food in the cafeteria, or timekeeping at competitions, there is something for everyone. You just have to be willing to donate your time!