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Volunteer and help Ironman athletes cross the finish line

July 2, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

If you want to help someone's dream come true - and help the community at the same time - Ironman Lake Placid is waiting for you to sign up and volunteer for the July 26 event.

With Ironman, though, you're not just helping one person; you're helping about 2,500 people cross the finish line at the Olympic Speedskating Oval after a grueling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run.

You are helping people like Lake Placid resident Mac Rand, 61, who will be competing in his final Ironman after finishing two back-to-back races last year to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Rand has been a member of the Society's Team in Training for 24 years, and this year his Ironman effort will benefit one of our own, 14-year-old Duncan Segger of Lake Placid, a promising luge athlete with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Article Photos

A volunteer hands a water bottle to Mac Rand, of Lake Placid, at the finish line of the 2014 Ironman Lake Placid.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

Volunteer for Duncan. Volunteer for Mac. Volunteer for the thousands of other "average Joe" athletes who need your support.

By volunteering at Ironman, you are also helping the economy of Lake Placid, which relies heavily on tourism. Ironman is what we call a "destination" race, as most of the athletes will be traveling here to compete. Many come days or even weeks in advance to train on the course, staying in local hotels, shopping and eating in our restaurants.

Without the support from the 3,400 volunteers, Ironman would not be able to pull off this event, and organizers could go elsewhere. This one race, including multiple athlete pre-race visits, brings a direct economic impact of about $10 million to the region. In addition, the Ironman Foundation distributes thousands of dollars each year to groups throughout the region.

Fact Box

How to sign up for Ironman volunteer opportunities

There are still some fun volunteer assignments available this year for both individuals and groups at the Ironman triathlon. If you are interested, contact Sue Cameron at for more information or sign up for available positions online at

Community leaders such as Sue Cameron, Ironman volunteer director and events manager at the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, have seen volunteerism drop off in recent years and are looking to rebuild the ranks.

"We have always enjoyed a great heritage of volunteering," she said.

Lake Placid earned high marks for its throngs of volunteers who helped make the 1980 Olympic Winter Games possible. After the Olympics, however, residents began relying more on the state Olympic Regional Development Authority to provide economic stability and manpower for events.

It was about this time that volunteerism began to drop in Lake Placid. We can't say for certain whether it was burnout from the Games, the unsaid passing of the torch to a generation not ready or willing to take it, or the increased reliance on state government. But what we've learned over the past 30 years is the "Oh, ORDA will do it" attitude doesn't work, and it doesn't help Lake Placid in the least. We'd even call it selfish.

This is a community. We need each other. Even ORDA relies on volunteers for its events, and ORDA is the biggest economic engine in Lake Placid, much bigger than Ironman.

We don't believe people are busier than they were 40 years ago. They're more distracted, maybe, in the Digital Age, but not busier. Parents juggling several kids, each with their own set of activities, may argue that point, but certainly citizens aren't too busy to contribute to their community.

"One of the core values of our community has always been based on volunteering to make events happen and to help take care of our fellow citizens and community interests," Cameron said.

There's a silver lining here, and we're optimistic for the future. Local schools are helping to groom a new generation of responsible citizens. As Lake Placid High School administrators wrapped up their 2014-2015 academic year, they reminded students that summer break is a great time to earn community service learning credits, listing Ironman as an example of where they could help. The district requires a minimum of 40 hours of community service in order to graduate.

"Lake Placid is incredibly fortunate to have a modest core of community volunteers who give countless thousands of hours that are vital for the betterment of our community," Cameron said. "The region's younger people will eventually need to fill the void created when that core is no longer able to fulfill this need. There are a few, but we need a great many more. For starters, volunteering for Ironman is a really fun way to break into volunteering and meet some great people at the same time."

So, yes, there's hope for a better Lake Placid. As the community rebuilds its corps of volunteers - for social and educational programs, nonprofits and major sporting events - its residents will secure a future for themselves and for their children. More importantly, they'll instill fundamental values in our youth and show, by example, that we're all here for each other.



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