Roughly 1,800 people came from all walks of life, from all over the world even, to lend a hand. They stand out from spectators all over the grounds of the World Rowing Championships in their bright orange and blue shirts, going whereever they’re needed.
Thanks to his experience in the media, retired local broadcaster Dan Bradley, hustled between the media center — where race results were printed — and a board behind the grandstands where he taped a piece of paper with the latest results.
As a “media runner,” getting the results posted to the outdoor board and a board inside the media center was part of Bradley’s responsibility Tuesday afternoon at the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
“Media is a beast and you’ve got to feed it,” Bradley said with a smile.
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It wasn’t his first day working in the media center, and he said it took the crew about two-and-a-half days to get things running smoothly inside the air-conditioned tent. They also cut down on the number of volunteers working inside, which helped with the feeling he had earlier that week of too many hands in the basket.
“One of the biggest challenges is many of us (volunteers) are retired and many of us are retired bosses being worker bees and not bosses,” Bradley said.
It’s also a learn-as-you-go environment for many volunteers, Bradley said, many of whom do not know much about rowing. He explained that people volunteer for all kinds of reasons — some for work aspirations, some because they have the time and want the community to look good.
He was part of the latter group.
On any given day of the championships, you can see between 400 and 500 volunteers working in every capacity from ticketing to athlete services.
Morgan Skillman, volunteer and staff manager for the 2017 World Rowing Championships, is in charge of managing the approximately 1,800 volunteers and their leaders.
Several volunteers, Skillman said, chose to take on several shifts during the nine-day competition, and set up in the days prior. It helped fill the more than 5,000 volunteer shifts that needed to be covered.
“I was very happy to see the community rally around this event like they did,” Skillman said. “They want to be here and they want to be helpful.”
Being helpful in the media center Tuesday was volunteer Kate Treharne-Jones, who came from Europe to help.
It was not her first time. She’s volunteered at five prior World Rowing Championships and has rowing experience, she said.
Treharne-Jones was a captain of the ladies rowing team at her university 40 years ago for the University of London. She was there earning a degree in nursing and got involved in rowing, which is how she met her husband who was also a captain.
Now, he’s a commentator for FISA, the rowing organization that organizes the championships. Treharne-Jones said she always finds a volunteer role when she goes with him to competitions like this.
“We don’t have proper holidays, we have rowing holidays,” Treharne-Jones said with a laugh.
She said, so far, the best part of her volunteer experience in Bradenton-Sarasota was meeting different people and the friendliness of everyone she’s met.
“No one’s made fun of my accent,” Treharne-Jones said, though they have noticed and inquired where she’s from.
Some volunteers, Skillman said, went above and beyond in the days following Hurricane Irma. The storm, which downed trees and caused thousands to be without power, put them a little behind schedule, Skillman explained. But volunteers pitched in to finish some of the last minute work.
“It wasn’t originally planned but it helped us so much,” Skillman said. “It really blessed all of us.”