Organizers reflect on a successful 55 + Games

Organizers reflect on a successful 55 + Games

The 2018 55+ BC Games had Cranbrook and Kimberley, and much of the surrounding area, bustling with activity last week but they came to a close Saturday leaving a lot of great memories of the experience, and some loose ends to tie up for the organizing board.

“It is a relief, but we have a whole bunch of work to do,” said Sandy Zeznik, Co-President of the 2018 Kimberley Cranbrook 55+ BC Games.

“We have to gather all the signs up, we have to shrink wrap stuff, send it on to Kelowna where the next games are, and decide what we’re going to do legacy-wise.”

The Games organizers have an office staff and the board of directors is sticking around to help take down the hundreds of signs positioned in dozens of locations across the region, As well, all reports must be filed, so next year’s event in Kelowna can benefit from the success of the Cranbrook-Kimberley games.

The board sought to recruit 800 volunteers, and Zeznik said that while many waited until the last minute to sign up, she thinks that they hit the target. The last volunteers working are the result takers, who had been putting in 10 to 12 hour days throughout the Games.

“It didn’t matter what the job was,” Zeznik said. “Whether you did a small job or a huge job, we couldn’t do it without those volunteers. It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle and if one little piece is missing there’s some problems. But they just rallied and got to it.”

Despite some inclement weather, the overarching consensus from participants, organizers and volunteers alike has been solidly positive.

“It wasn’t the best September weather that we’ve had for sure,” she said. “First we were worried about smoke, then we’re worried about if it was ever going to quit raining, and it was cold. But there’s nothing you can do about that.”

Touring around the various venues hosting events, it was plain to see that the atmosphere was always positive — as well as a great chance for these athletes to compete, it also is a wonderful experience to make new friends, or connect with old ones.

“What brings people to those games is socialization as well as competition,” Zeznik said. “Yes, they’re competitive when they’re here and they want to do well in their sport, but they also want to see Betty or Harry or Mary from the games last year, or meet new friends, or talk to each other and see the connections.”

Zeznik also feels that the games provided a sizeable economic boost to the area. Restaurants and hotels were packed and the hundreds of athletes and their guests spent days taking in the sites and visiting local businesses.

“There was, I think, lots of benefit to it and Cindy Simpson, who is president of the BC Senior Games said she thought this felt like the people’s games — because everyone was talking about how friendly not only the volunteers and the participants were, but just the citizens of the towns, and the businesses of the towns came together to give everyone welcome and make it very welcoming.”

Another component that made the 31st games so special was the introduction of women’s hockey for the first time ever — Zeznik said the board was thrilled, and one of their sports directors Melanie McFarlane competed.

“They were just thrilled to be in the inaugural games and now being in Kelowna next year I’m sure the number of teams will just rise, because they are more central and now it’s done its thing. But that was a great thing to happen.”

Zeznik hopes that the success of the games and the great experience shared by all involved helps to inspire the next generation of people to get involved in some capacity or another, and she added that she wants to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved.

“Thank you to both cities, everything in between and the huge contingent of volunteers that we had. As well as of course, our wonderful board of directors and all our chairs and everybody that helped out, our office staff, our city liaisons, all of those people come together to make the games what they were. So hopefully what we’ve heard has been by the most positive and hopefully that’s what it stays as.”