North Island couple share Olympic spirit

Gazette staff

Valerie MacPherson

Valerie MacPherson

Gazette staff

A Port Hardy couple had a dream come true when they were selected as volunteers for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Malcolm and Brenda Fleeton will play integral roles behind the scenes of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Malcolm is scheduled to work as team leader at B.C. Place Stadium during the opening and closing ceremonies and during the nightly medal presentations. He will also work at the Paralympic opening ceremonies.

Brenda was selected as a communications officer at the athlete’s village in downtown Vancouver and at the curling venue by Queen Elizabeth Park during the Paralympic Games.

Malcolm says he and his wife decided to apply to be volunteers the day the International Olympic Committee awarded the Games to Vancouver.

He said they were on the ferry when it was announced by the captain. A loud cheer erupted amongst passengers.

“We both have been an admirer of the Olympics for years and had pride in how Canadians participated each time,” said Malcolm. “For us, with our involvement in the community for years, it just seemed to be the thing to do and we both waited anxiously for the opportunity to volunteer.”

Malcolm said he and his wife applied online in early 2008 by filling out a questionnaire.

The couple went to Vancouver for interviews, training and criminal record checks. Most of their training will be just before the Games begin.

The pair will typically work four or five days straight and then have one day off.

Most shifts will be between eight and nine hours long, but the Fleetons are expecting to work 16-hour shifts on the opening and closing days.

Malcolm says he is worried he will make a mistake that will result in embarrassment to the Olympics or Canada as he says no two shifts will ever be the same.

But the positives far outweigh the negatives for the couple.

“Brenda is looking forward to taking part in the Olympic excitement and atmosphere and telling people about our part of the province,” says Malcolm.

“For me, the part I’m looking forward to is meeting people from all around the world and making them feel welcome. I hope to be an ambassador for the North Island as well where possible.”

Malcolm says they will both be able to attend the Opening Ceremonies rehearsal, but not attend events.

“Without knowing where and when we would work it did not seem feasible to buy tickets,” said Malcolm.

But he says the perks that come along with volunteering are the memories, the uniform, and free transit when on the job.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, but from what I gather in training so far, once you are a part of the Olympic family you are always a member and opportunities will come at future Games around the world,” says Malcolm.