The 2012 Summer Olympics came to Coon Rapids April 17.
That’s when Coon Rapids Senior Services hosted its annual volunteer appreciation banquet, with an Olympic theme of “Volunteers Are Gold Medal Winners.”
Some 200 seniors and guests gathered at the Coon Rapids Civic Center for the event, which opened when Mary Wells entered the civic center carrying the Olympic torch and ran among the tables full of volunteers before lighting the Olympic flame.
The Olympics theme continued throughout the program, which recognized 406 volunteers for performing 31,725 hours of work for the city’s senior services program in the past year.
“Let the games begin,” said Kris Niebler, Coon Rapids Senior Services program specialist.
“This is a special day in which we honor our volunteers. It’s one of the best days of the year.”
“The time and effort put forth by our volunteers make the senior center tick.”
In fact, the volunteers embody the three principles of the Olympic Games – excellence, respect, friendship, according to Niebler.
There are an “amazing” number of senior volunteers and the senior services program could not run without them, Niebler said.
Two members of the Coon Rapids City Council – Scott Schulte and Bruce Sanders – were speakers and guests at the event.
Seniors do countless hours of volunteer work, not only for the city, but also the county, the state and the nation, Schulte said.
“They make a difference to all our lives,” he said.
And the volunteer work of seniors throughout the community makes the job of being councilmember a lot easier, according to Schulte.
“Thanks a million for everything you do to make our lives better,” Schulte said.
Too often what good people do goes unnoticed, but with this volunteer appreciation event, “we are looking at and appreciating what you do,” Sanders said.
Seniors make a great contribution to the city, he said.
Miss Coon Rapids Samantha Phillippi performed the talent presentation that helped her win the title at the 2012 Miss Coon Rapids Scholarship Pageant – singing and dancing to “But I’m A Good Girl” from the musical “Burlesque.”
Phillippi also talked about her platform focusing on the importance of good nutrition and physical activity, including dancing, for living a healthy lifestyle, which she is taking to local elementary schools.
She came to the volunteer appreciation banquet from Sand Creek Elementary School, Coon Rapids, where she had spoken to students about her platform.
Senior services staff and volunteers, augmented by students from Northwest Passage High School, Coon Rapids, performed two skits with an Olympic flavor – a fashion show and a “silly synchronized swim team” skit.
Entertainer Betty Rydell gave a mini-concert of patriotic songs before lunch was served by members of city staff.
The 2012 Olympic Games takes place July 27 through Aug. 12 in London, England, and other venues in the United Kingdom.
The Olympic Stadium and Olympic Park are in Stratford, which is located in the east end of London.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]