by: Cassie DeClerc
Where do I even start when it comes to the Packer 5k?! This was my first experience organizing a large group of volunteers and I learned a lot from it!
When we first posted on here, Facebook, twitter and sent emails out notifying our great volunteers that the American Red Cross would once again be a charity partner with the Packer 5k and that we were looking for volunteers I was a bit overwhelmed. Our amazing community quickly pulled together and sent emails in quicker than I could read them. While it was wonderful to see people volunteer to donate their time, I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to organize and contact every single person! Along with the simple challenge of replying to everyone, came the challenge of getting all of the correct information. Some emails came in without shirt sizes, or what area they wanted to work, or even missing the names of individuals which required an extra step of communication which proved to be more fun that I anticipated.
But, through the emails I feel that I got the amazing opportunity to connect with the volunteers. Email made is seem like I was pen pals with 150+ people with some of the biggest hearts I have ever met. With the help of a computer screen and keyboard I was introduced to groups of work friends, people that were long time friends, first time volunteers and volunteers with years of experience, couples, singles, and even families that came together to make a difference and put their community first. Who would ever guess that 150+ strangers could feel like family so quickly!?
As race day neared, I remember being a bit stressed about finding volunteers to fill our open spots on course corners and at the water station. We sent out a social media reminder that we were still looking for volunteers and got 1 response. ONE RESPONSE! I think I had a bit of a panic attack thinking there was no way I would ever fill the positions and because of that it would all be a failure. (I even had a dream one night of an empty water station with angry thirsty runners!) Jody then reminded me that we had time and we usually end up with just the right number! Our volunteers are certainly awesome like that and come race day we had all spots covered!
Now on to the truly fun and interesting stuff! Goodie bag stuffing was a blast! I loved getting to see the faces behind all of the emails I sent and getting to know some of the volunteers better. We had 2 amazing teams that worked so well we were done early! I cannot say enough about the volunteers at Goodie Bag stuffing. They stuffed bags and folded over 8,000 tshirts! My absolute favorite part of Goodie Bag stuffing was the DePere Baseball team that brought their A game and helped us all remember what it’s like to be a kid at Lambeau Field!
After a day of rest and recovery we were ready for race day! We started our day at 2pm with packet pick up! We got an awesome picture together (no selfie here, just a normal picture! =]) and then got to send them on their way! We then had a little break before we had to get our course corners and water station ready to go! So Jody and I did what every good runner would do and got prepared for the race! And by that, I mean we got Cold Stone! We had to make sure our sugar was up so we could last through the race!
We finally met up with our water station, course corner and medal hand out volunteers! All such wonderful people! In a few short hours these amazing people managed to hand out water, medals and cheer on over 7,000 runners!
This was such an amazing experience in my book. I cannot wait to work with awesome volunteers on events like this in the future!