Our very own Lenora Waelti, Physical Therapist at Summit Therapy, had the opportunity of a lifetime to volunteer at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea this past February. She was selected as one of the few Americans to travel to PyeongChang to serve as a volunteer for the Great Britain team.
In the weeks leading up to her departure, she was tasked with learning as much of the Korean language as possible using a mobile teaching app. “I was able to learn the basics, but there’s only so much you can absorb in a matter of weeks,” she said. Fortunately, when she arrived in PyeongChang and met with her Great Britain volunteer team, several of her teammates spoke both languages and could serve as translators.
“I loved getting to know my fellow volunteers.” She says, “We became very close very quickly. There were four of us squeezed into a small dormitory room, so we had no choice but to bond in a short amount of time!” The volunteers were housed at a university near the Gangneung Ice Arena, where the figure skating, ice dancing, curling, and hockey matches took place.
Lenora originally applied to be a medical volunteer and put her physical therapy experience to use, but ended up being placed as a team volunteer due to a last-minute staffing change. Her primary responsibilities were to assist the Great Britain team with day-to-day tasks: driving athletes to and from events, making sure team vans were ready to go at all times, decorating the team areas with GB swag, and running other various errands. When she wasn’t busy with her volunteer duties, Lenora found time to do some sightseeing and explore the local area. “My favorite part was visiting the beach – even though it was only 14 degrees, the views were stunning!”
After the closing ceremonies, she stayed in town to volunteer at the Paralympic Games, where she was placed on Team Italy. “I had far less responsibilities for the Paralympic Games, which gave me time to catch some of the nearby events,” she said, “I was especially fascinated watching the ice hockey matches. It was the first time I’d seen a para hockey match. The amount of arm strength those athletes have is incredible!”
When the Paralympic Games wrapped up, Lenora headed back to Pullman. “While I didn’t end up putting my physical therapy skills to use as a medical volunteer, I’m very grateful for the opportunity I was given, and for the extraordinary people I was able to meet during my time in PyeongChang.”