After spending the weekend in Lacombe hosting Rogers Hometown Hockey, Red Deer native Ron MacLean took time to lend his voice to the cause of the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
MacLean spoke at a charity lunch for Sheraton Celebrity dance-off contestants Duane Daines and Ron’s wife Cari MacLean. The proceeds of the lunch goes towards their dance-off fundraising efforts — the proceeds of which will eventually go to the new Canada Games square, which will be located at the site of the former Central Middle School downtown.
After covering events all of the world, including several Olympics — Ron said one of his favourite things about the games is seeing the volunteers come together.
“Mike Murray was a great relay coach at the Atlanta Summer Games and we won the gold that year in the relay. He used to say the power in each of us comes from all of us. That’s what it will be with all of us volunteers,” Ron said.
The 2019 Canada Games is slated to welcome in over 5,000 volunteers who will serve at several new and improved venues throughout the city.
“It is a face-lift for the city and it is a celebration for the city and I am so grateful for Cari and I to be invited to be a part of it,” he said.
Mike Phelps, co-organizer for the event, said people don’t realize the legacy which will be left by the Canada Winter Games.
“A good example is the Canada Olympic Plaza in Calgary. It is still being used to this day with the skating rink there and that is from the ‘88 Olympics. That is what we are hoping. People can go there for years and years to enjoy,” he said.
Phelps added they were hoping to raise over $30,000 at the event, something which was made easier by Ron and Cari donating back his speaking appearance fee.
“Anyone who wants to hear about Red Deer — I am yours. It is very important for Cari and myself to be a part of it in order to say thank you to all the folks in the City of Red Deer,” Ron added.
He added Red Deer has a great history of hosting sports events, dating back to his childhood.
“Even when I was a kid, we seemed to get that stuff. We had the Scott Tournament of Hearts, we had Skate Canada Figure Skating Championships, we have had the World Juniors— we are great hosts, and what amazes me is that we seem to tap into the same 200 or so people to be on these committees and they never get tired of it,” he said.
With the Games fast approaching, Ron reminded Red Deerians and quoted the 1995 World Juniors Coach Don Hay saying “Don’t count the days. Make the days count”.
“That is how I feel about the Canada Winter Games, Red Deerians may be counting the days, but more importantly we are making the days count.