If you’ve skied or snowboarded on WinSport’s hill, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Paul Quan.
Let’s just say he frequents the place quite a bit. In fact, the 80-year-old has been at WinSport nearly every day since the 1988 Winter Olympics, donating thousands of hours of his time to do one simple thing – help people who are learning to ski and skate.
“Somebody on the hill needs my help,” Paul explains when asked what has given him the motivation to come to WinSport every day for the last 27 years. “There’s always somebody who is just learning and might be stressed out on the hill and I just want to help them.”
The concept of helping people is something that you could say is part of Paul’s DNA. After retiring from his career as a building designer with the City of Calgary, Paul volunteered with the Calgary Police Service and then at the 1988 Olympics. Riding on the momentum of the Olympics, Paul shifted the focus from helping organizers of the Olympics host a successful event, to helping countless Calgarians feel comfortable and welcome while they learn winter sports.
Depending on the day, he’ll either be on the ski hill or in the Markin MacPhail Centre (MMC) helping with the skating programs.
“I’ll ski around and help people who have fallen, help them up and make sure they’re OK,” Paul explains, adding that he plays a similar role when volunteering with the skating programs. “I’ll also make sure people have a helmet and are having a good time.”
Paul says he understands that skating on ice, or a skiing down a hill can be intimidating. He moved to Canada from China in 1960, so snow and winter sport were completely foreign to him when he first set foot on Canadian soil.
“I was always active as a kid growing up in China and one of the things I used to do was swim in the river with water buffalo,” Paul explains adding that he was eager to try Canada’s winter sports.
“At first I thought people were stupid to put on these six foot long sticks on your feet and go down a hill,” Paul explains with a laugh. “But then you go, and you’re hooked.”
In Paul’s case, being ‘hooked’ to winter sport is something that is benefiting the many people who have met one of WinSport’s longest standing volunteers. Whether it was a conversation, a wave, or being picked up off the ground after a tumble on the hill – Paul has helped and continues to help people young and old who come to discover sports at WinSport. He’s one of more than 200 dedicated volunteers who help the more than one million people who visit the campus to participate in the year-round activities. It brings gratification to each volunteer in different ways, but for Paul, just seeing the smiles on the faces of the people he’s helped is what makes him come back every day.
“I like when they see me and wave or give the thumbs up,” Paul says about the most gratifying thing about being a volunteer ski ambassador. “It’s a good feeling when people recognize you and you know you have had a positive impact on their life.”
By volunteering for WinSport you can help provide essential support to various departments and activities while gaining valuable work experience. If you have a passion for sport, leadership or community, please view our volunteer opportunities here and help people become better than yesterday: http://www.winsport.ca/aboutwinsportcanada/joinourteam/volunteer.cfm