MSVU grad joins Olympic-volunteer roster

Crosby and Conrad aren't the only Nova Scotians at the 2010 Winter Games. An estimated 25,000 Canadian volunteers are enjoying their own Olympic experiences.

Olympic uniform worn by the volunteers at the Vancouver 2010 Games. Photo: Shannon Kehoe

Shannon Kehoe missed cheering hometown hero Sidney Crosby when he ran with the Olympic torch in Halifax. She was on the road recruiting new students for Mount Saint Vincent University.

But the admissions officer got her chance to greet the torch when it arrived in Vancouver on Feb. 9.

"It was amazing to see the flame," she says. "We followed the torch to Holland Park in Surrey where [gold-medalist wrestler] Daniel Igali lit a larger torch. The amount of people out were amazing and the vibe in the air was great. I think for [British Columbians] this has been a long time coming."

Kehoe's own journey to the Olympics, as one of the estimated 25,000 volunteers, started long before the torch relay.

The 25-year-old MSVU public relations graduate began researching volunteer opportunities for the Vancouver Games in the spring of 2008. She applied and met volunteer recruiters in Halifax for a face-to-face interview last spring.

"I was able to specify which areas I would be interested in so I leaned towards any sort of media-relations role," she says. "I've met a couple people with the coveted Canada Hockey Place [venue] positions so they're going to be at all of the hockey games."

Kehoe says her boss at MSVU "loved the idea" of her participating.

"I've had lots of support," she says. "The whole week before I was leaving, people were coming up to me in the hallway and asking me about it."

As she talks, Kehoe's arriving back at her hotel after the last of her training shifts. The sea of volunteers in Olympic-issued, sky-blue uniforms have been preparing all week for the onslaught of international media.

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"I’m definitely taking some pictures for them and sending a postcard," says Shannon Kehoe about her MSVU colleages.

By Friday she will have helped register the 11,000 members of the media expected to descend on the Vancouver Convention Centre before the opening ceremonies. Her duties include tagging media members as they enter the facilities, ensuring they receive the proper accreditation and passes, and directing them where they need to be.

"It's a bullpen," she says. "There are 700 stations set up for the media to use during the Games."

Mixing work and leisure

Although it's a working holiday, Kehoe hopes to take in the sights and celebrations during her off hours at the Convention Centre.

"There's all the Olympic events but there are also a lot of cultural events from all of the countries represented here," she says. "I'm looking forward to the other opportunities that might pop up, stuff you just can't plan for yet. There's a hockey game I might get to go to, so I'm crossing my fingers!"

One night of her schedule is sure to be full. Nova Scotia Day at the Olympics is Feb. 16, but Kehoe and other Nova Scotian volunteers are invited to a wine-and-cheese reception at the designated Atlantic Canada House the night before.

Premier Darrell Dexter will be there to welcome Nova Scotians to the Games and Halifax musical group DRUM! will perform before the Atlantic Canada Kitchen Party gets underway with Sloan and The Stanfields.

"I'm really excited to see DRUM!," she says. "It's neat because I've never even seen it in Halifax," she laughs. "I saved so many things to do when I got here."



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