I am having a great time sitting in my living room cheering for Team U.S.A. at the Rio Olympics. Twenty years ago I didn’t get to see much of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta from my living room. Instead, I was volunteering with the Yachting events (now called Sailing events) near Savannah, Georgia.
Before the games began, we saw the Olympic Flame arrive in Savannah on the Schooner America. After torch bearers ran through Savannah they wound their way around Georgia to the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta. The world then watched as the final torch bearer Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic Cauldron.
Two of our friends participated in the relay through Savannah. It was such a thrill to see the Olympic Torch relay in person.
For the Olympic Yachting events, a Day Marina was constructed in the waters of Wassaw Sound near Savannah. To get there, we had to drive a few miles, ride on a bus, and ride a shuttle boat to the Day Marina along with other volunteers and athletes. For two weeks, Henry, our daughter, and I got up at the crack of dawn and put on our volunteer uniforms to help with the launch and recovery team of volunteers on the Day Marina.
Tents were set up on the Day Marina to provide a home for the athletes during the long days on the water. The larger countries had their own tent and ramp to launch their boats while smaller countries shared a tent. I was assigned to work with Fiji, Guam, Jamaica, and Thailand who were sharing a tent between Team USA and Team New Zealand.
Our days were long and hot but it was worth it to be able to meet athletes and trainers from all over the world. I was even able to do a little pin trading and get a few autographs.
There was a flurry of activity as each team prepared to launch their boats to go out to the race course. Things got busy again when the sailors returned after their event.
The races were too far away to watch from the Day Marina. One day we got to ride a boat out to the race course to see one of the events.
Being an Olympic volunteer was a once in a lifetime experience. Meeting these amazing Olympians and watching them prepare for their events was something I will never forget. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do it.