Hannie Page, the sole volunteer from the Netherlands, was brimming with enthusiasm and pride as soon as she walked into the Invictus Village at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. She dreamed of coming to Canada ever since Toronto was announced as the Host City of the 2017 Invictus Games. She knew that even if she did not get a volunteer position she would still attend in support of the competitors.
“I got very inspired and decided that for my 50th birthday to give a gift to myself. I wanted to volunteer for the Invictus Games in Toronto. I am very moved by the stories of the veterans, their families and what everyone has been through,” Hannie said.
This past February she had a phone interview and then a few months later was officially offered a volunteer role. She accepted the position and wanted to connect with other volunteers.
“I set up an unofficial Facebook group for Invictus Games volunteers. Other people from the Invictus Games joined too, even Michael Burns, the CEO of the Invictus Games Toronto, joined,” she said.
Hannie uses the group to bring volunteers together, and provides information about the different competitions and other adaptive sport competitions that are being held. She made sure that the group was a resource for volunteers, who could use it to learn more about the competitors and the competing nations. “It is an informative Facebook group,” she said.
Hannie is a civilian. She doesn’t have a military background or experience with the military, but she is inspired by the veterans. “They are people who have seen too much and lost too much. This is my way of giving back,” she explains.
She is proud and honoured to be volunteering at the Invictus Games in Toronto. “The veterans sign up, risk their lives for our freedom. We have to thank the competitors and all the other veterans for their service. Canada has done a lot for the Dutch. It is the least we can do,” she said.
Her family and friends have supported her in her decision to come to Toronto and to volunteer at the Invictus Games. “They find it important to me that I do something that I really enjoy,” she said.
Back home in the Netherlands, Hannie is a full-time stay-at-home mom, who takes care of her two children and volunteers in her local community. When not scheduled for a volunteer shift, Hannie plans on visiting tourist attractions and attending competitions as a spectator. Having arrived in Toronto on September 20, she has already visited the Niagara Falls region with a few other volunteers. They attended a winery tour and wine tasting. “We had a wonderful day,” she said.
On the first day of competition, Hannie attended the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge as a spectator to cheer on the competitors. Her first shift is on September 25 at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, and when asked about it, exclaimed, “I am excited, very excited!” She heads home to the Netherlands on October 1.
The Facebook group that Hannie created can be found at Volunteers Invictus Games Toronto 2017 (unofficial).