LOS ANGELES – LA 2024 today held a celebratory reunion for volunteers of the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games at the iconic LA Memorial Coliseum, honoring the 33rd anniversary of the Games’ Opening Ceremony. Bid leaders applauded the volunteers for making the LA 1984 Games a success, pointing to their contributions as a key factor driving Angelenos’ overwhelming support for bringing the Games back to the City of Angels for a third time.
LA 2024 bid leaders pledged to build on LA 1984’s powerful legacy of Olympic volunteerism. In February, the bid committee established a first-of-its-kind Volunteer Service Program that spotlights opportunities in 2017 for Angelenos to make a difference in their communities through volunteer work and community service, providing tangible benefits to the region during the bid phase. Since the program’s inception LA 2024 has attracted more than 12,000 volunteers and has provided support for the Angel City Games, Discover LA, Friends of the LA River, Heal the Bay, LA Marathon, Special Olympics Southern California, the United Way of Greater LA, and more.
LA 2024 CEO Gene Sykes said: “It’s a thrill to be at the LA Coliseum celebrating the men and women who volunteered to make the 1984 Olympic Games such a resounding success.The more than 30,000 volunteers of the LA 1984 Games set a tremendous and inspiring example for our bid committee.
“The power of the Games and Angelenos’ enthusiasm to help each other is such that LA 2024 has already been able to attract more than 10,000 volunteers who are ready to serve our city today. We relish the opportunity to continue the Volunteer Program in the event that LA is awarded a Games, so that Games-time visitors are not only welcomed by a dedicated and experienced team of volunteers with detailed knowledge of the LA Games Plans, but also are provided world-class service as a result of volunteers that have been deeply involved with the bid and organizing committees in the years leading up to the Games.”
More than 200 LA 1984 volunteers were joined at the reunion by Olympic champions and LA 2024 Athletes’ Advisory Commission members Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci. Conner, who won two gymnastics golds at LA 1984, delivered the keynote speech thanking the volunteers for their contributions, and presided over the lighting of the Coliseum’s cauldron.
Two-time Olympic champion and LA 2024 Athletes’ Advisory Commission Member Bart Conner said: “Simply put, the Games cannot happen without the help of volunteers. They are the soul of the Games. Volunteers are essential to ensuring athletes have everything they need to perform at their very best come competition day. The volunteers at the ‘84 Games were unparalleled in their enthusiasm, work ethic and passion. It’s an honor to be here today to celebrate their contributions to the ‘84 Games and the Olympic Movement.”
In addition to interacting with Olympians, posing for pictures with torches from the 1984 Games, and perusing a wide variety of Olympic memorabilia, volunteers were asked to share their favorite memories of the 1984 Games.
Daryn Benton, who volunteered at the Main Press Center, said: “I was a young kid and I loved meeting all the people from around the world and trading pins with them. It was so exciting to interact with the international community and learn about their countries. That probably started me on my travel quest. I’ve been to over 40 countries now and visited several past Olympic villages.”
Ted Mergenthaler, a volunteer at the Olympic Village at UCLA, said: “[I have] so many memories, but watching athletes return in triumph to the UCLA Village with their medals was special.”
Helen Yoon, who volunteered at both the Opening and the Closing Ceremony, said: “It was an amazing experience, helping with the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. It made me so proud to be an American, meeting and hosting athletes from all over the world. Also, the lack of traffic made it so easy to drive around.”
Sam Wildman, who served as a hostess and greeter at Los Angeles International Airport, said: “Every day was memorable. The warm feeling of camaraderie among the volunteers was extraordinary – we felt like family. It was exciting to greet the athletes daily as they arrived at LAX, and to make them feel so comfortable to be here in LA for the 1984 Summer Olympics.”