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A different view as the games unfold

Wellesley Township will see one of its own attend the Pan Am Games, although she won’t be competing.

Laura Baxter is one of the 23,000 plus volunteers helping out at the Pan Am Games later this month in Toronto and the surrounding communities.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Laura Baxter is one of the 23,000 plus volunteers helping out at the Pan Am Games later this month in Toronto and the surrounding communities. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Laura Baxter will be one of some 23,000 volunteers offering up their time to keep the event running smoothly.

“When I heard it was going to Toronto, I really enjoy watching the horse events, so I thought what a great way to get an in-depth insight into the games and to volunteer,” Baxter said. “On my application I had asked that I be put in the equestrian park, so I did get that.”

She’ll travel to the Caledon venue for that. She says she is excited to see the backside of a large sporting event, not just the spectator side of it.

Right now her volunteering is focused on being an auxiliary police officer with the Waterloo Regional Police.

“I like to volunteer in the community and be involved in that aspect of it,” Baxter said. “It was always kind of an interest and it’s a good way to, again, get to see a different side of policing than what you normally see.”

Being accepted as a volunteer for the Pan Am Games wasn’t a sure thing. More than 60,000 people applied for a volunteer spot, with fewer than half actually receiving one.

“They had an online application that you had to fill out and then they had a video interview, so it wasn’t a live interview,” Baxter said. “It was like an interactive interview where they asked you questions and then they gave you a certain amount of time to be on video. And then you answered the questions, but everyone had the same questions. You weren’t speaking live to somebody, and then they went from there.”

She’s also done online training courses, which they require. And she had to go to Toronto to pick up her accreditation and uniform. This weekend she’ll be doing an onsite training session at the venue site in Caledon.

Aside from volunteering at the games, she’s hoping to see some events as a spectator too.

“I have not bought tickets yet. I think I was just going to wait and see what interests me the most. Of course you’re risking that it will be sold out, especially the finals, but being a volunteer I might see all that I want to see on the backside of it,” Baxter said,

Now she’s reaching out to the community to see if anyone else in the township, and region, is volunteering at the games too.

“I would love to know if there’s anybody else, especially going out to my venue site,” Baxter said.

The Pan Am Games run from July 10-26 in Toronto and 17 other Golden Horseshoe communities.

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