This past weekend was incredibly busy, from Thursday to Sunday I was volunteering at something new every day! I was so thankful for the beautiful weather Calgary received, after a few nights of brutal wind and rain.

My weekend started off at the Health and Fitness Expo just beside the Scotiabank Saddledome, home of the Calgary flames. I spent the evening handing out t-shirts to the Marathon runners after they traveled through the expo, eating delicious subway sandwiches, and meeting inspirational people from all over the world. One man I had the pleasure of meeting flew in from California to run his 60th marathon, he was so enthusiastic and passionate about running. Another man was told he couldn’t run anymore after undergoing two hip replacements, so he made it his mission to walk the full marathon. There was one adorable little girl who was staring at my crown as her mum picked up her shirt, and so I offered to let her try it on. The look on her face was one of pure joy, and she giggled the whole time, especially when I told her she looked just like a princess. During my spare time that evening, I was able to wander around the expo in my sash and crown, visiting all of the different booths, entering contests and playing little games they had.

On Friday, I spend my morning at the Calgary Children’s festival! I was at the “Wishing wall” where kids, parents and volunteers wrote their wishes for Canada’s 150th birthday on a strip of a plastic ribbon, and tied it to a wall. My wish for Canada was for more opportunities for the homeless. The kids wished for everything you could imagine. A new puppy, no more war, a longer school year, and more sports. One parent supervising the field trip decided to write a more personal wish for a better head of hair! The children’s festival had so many exciting things for the kids to make and do. Some of the things I saw were sketch artists, costume designing, dance parties and puppet making, which was where I volunteered on Saturday! The tent for puppet making was certainly more busy that the wishing wall. There was a constant line of kids hoping to make one of the adorable puppets. The line went as follows: Get a paper tube and chose some coloured and patterned duct tape to cover it. Glue some googley eyes onto a small ketchup cup for the head and hole-punch the holes for the legs (The volunteers did that part) Now this is where I came in! I showed the kids how to put the legs on their puppet. We used pipe-cleaners, and I showed them how to thread the pipe-cleaners through the leg holes, and guided them as they tried it on their own. Last but not least, they got the head attached to the body, and the puppet string as well! We also provided emergent care for any puppets who had been stepped or sat on.

On my final day, I got to hand out medals with the wonderful Miss Southern Alberta-World. I arrived just in time to give medals to the 5k and 10k runners! It was such a great experience to see the pride on peoples faces as they crossed the finish line, and I could only imagine what running those races meant to some of them. One man I gave a medal to was in a wheelchair. When he saw me he pushed himself slowly out of the chair and asked me for a hug and a picture! I had to help support him as he stood for the photo, and it was such a moving moment for me. I also had the pleasure of giving medals to some dogs who crossed the 5k finish line with their owners. 400 other individuals who I didn’t get the chance to meet signed up for the 150k race, in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. While 325 of those people were participating in a relay, there were 75 who signed up to complete the race solo. Each runner or group had around 19 hours to complete the race, although they had to complete the first 100k in 13 hours, otherwise they would be disqualified and couldn’t finish the last bit of the race with the marathon and 50k runners. I don’t know for sure how many actually completed the entire 150 kilometers, but when they called the top 3 solo runners on stage for their awards, the crowd went wild!

A message to the runners,

Whether you ran 150k, 50k, 42.2k, 21.1k, 10k, or even 5k. Be proud of yourself. On Sunday you accomplished something that so many people only dream of doing. You set out a goal, and regardless of what time you crossed the finish line, you crossed it. That alone is a huge accomplishment. So please, be proud, and remember it as a time of courage, determination, and strength. The heat mixed with exhaustion couldn’t turn you away from the idea of finishing the race, and you have walked away with the knowledge of some new great things you are capable of doing. Congratulations.

Sincerely,

Emily

Written by: Emily

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