The third race of the 2023 Season of the RUNColumbus Race Series is the Chilly Chili Mile—a one-mile road race supporting Healthy New Albany. Bonnie is the Volunteer Coordinator for several races, including the Chilly Chili Mile, Mother’s Day 5k, and New Albany Walking Classic.
How did you become a volunteer coordinator? I became a Volunteer Coordinator for Healthy New Albany races because I enjoy helping people become part of a community event even if they do not want to participate in the athletic event itself. Also, I love seeing the positive effects of volunteering: Volunteering connects you to others and can end loneliness, bring fulfillment to your life, and is good for mind and body.
What’s the greatest challenge you face in your role? The greatest challenge I face as a volunteer coordinator is when volunteers cancel at the last moment. I usually can get enough volunteers (although I constantly send many emails and post on social media trying to recruit volunteers). Still, when a volunteer cancels the morning of a race or doesn’t show up, it can put the racers, staff, and volunteers in a bind. When this happens, I need to start pulling volunteers from their assigned spots and rearranging everyone. Also, if a volunteer doesn’t show up, there is always the risk of a racer not knowing which way to turn on the course.
What’s the greatest reward? The greatest reward is the stories that I hear after the races. I love hearing from the racers that the volunteers were placed at essential spots and were cheering so much for the racers. I enjoy hearing from the volunteers how much they enjoyed cheering for the racers and being part of a community event. Volunteering can lift up people’s spirits and is rewarding for both the racers and volunteers.
How can someone sign up to volunteer? Volunteers can sign up for Healthy New Albany races at this link. Also, they can email me directly, and I can let them know about upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Is there anything else you want people to know? If you are interested in being part of a community event but do not want to race, there is always an opportunity for you to become involved. At the Healthy New Albany races, we have spots for you to be a course marshal (cheering on the racers and directing them on the course), passing out water during the race, helping at the start, passing out water, food, medals at the finish, setting up before the race, helping with tear- down, and many other opportunities. We have a spot for anyone who wants to volunteer!