Volunteers are the success behind Utah’s Olympic venues

Jan 20, 2024, 5:29 PM | Updated: 5:35 pm

KEARNS — There is something about seeing a familiar face that often just makes things better.

You can’t help but smile when you see Donna Gunn.

“Hi everybody! How are you doing?” she said with excitement to a group of people coming in.

Gunn has been volunteering at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns for 19 years now.

Volunteers like Donna Gunn are a reason why Utah could host the Winter Olympics in 2034. (Mark Less, KSL TV)

Big events brings Gunn out

Whenever there is a big event, like the Four Continents Speedskating Championships this weekend that brings in the best speedskaters from around the world, you are sure to see her there.

“The Olympic spirit lives inside of all of us and we know that the games might be returning here to Salt Lake City in 2034,” said Gunn.

One reason Salt Lake is so attractive to the International Olympic Committee to host another Games is because all our venues, like the ice oval, are still being maintained and used.

“We are one of the few Olympics cities that use the venues the way they’re supposed to be met,” said Todd Porter, general manager of the Utah Olympic Oval. “We have them for these big, huge events, but we also cater to the public and have learn to skate programs all the way up, but we can host these and show and advertise what we can do, it is just great for the IOC.”

Of course, it’s not just our venues that are attractive to the IOC.

Volunteers are what makes it happen

It is also our volunteers, like Gunn, who make it possible.

“I think it is because everybody wants to have the chance to rub shoulders with some of the greats. I have rubbed shoulders with many,” Gunn said.

For example, when American Olympic speed skating medalist Brittany Bowe arrived at the oval Saturday afternoon, Gunn couldn’t wait to say hi.

“Guess what, Brittany? I got new shoes. Snowshoes!” Gunn said.

Congratulations!” Bowe said back to her.

Gunn loves meeting the athletes and hopes she can still volunteer in 2034 when Salt Lake is expected to host the Olympics again.

“It would mean the world to me,” Gunn said. “It would show all of my friends here in Utah and my family in Louisiana that I am part of a movement that will be for generations to come.”

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Volunteers are the success behind Utah’s Olympic venues