Ben’s labour of love for Wanaka
Volunteering a real buzz
Wanaka based Ben Suncin is well known in the local community and can often be seen chatting to friends or visitors from overseas, always with a smile on his face. Originally from the Bay of Plenty, Ben moved to Wanaka for six months 30 years ago – and he is still here. Early January is a busy time for Ben, as each year he commits to supporting the Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival, as one of 650 volunteers who help deliver this hugely popular event. Helping out with a variety of roles both in the buildup and on race day itself, Ben (along with Steve, a Canadian who flies in specifically each year to help out for the week) is a familiar and welcome face for other volunteers and athletes alike. Why does Ben do all this? ‘‘The people I meet as a volunteer are amazing. ‘‘I get such a buzz from speaking to so many different and wonderful people and being involved in such great events; where else would I get to stand side by side with athletes from around the world?’’ Ben is also committed to volunteering at the biennial Winter Games NZ and with the annual Brain Injury Association appeal – the latter being particularly close to Ben’s heart. In 2000 Ben suffered a stroke and in the years following spent countless hours re-learning to speak and walk. He receives valuable support from the Brain Injury Association and each year fronts up the appeal in Wanaka as a way of showing his appreciation for all the help they have given him. Ben also loves promoting a town he loves. ‘‘I want people to leave with a lasting impression of Wanaka, which they will share with their friends back home. Whether they are spectators at Challenge, athletes at the Winter Games or a passerby donating in New World – if I contribute to creating that impression then I get a great sense of satisfaction and feel I have made a difference to someone else’s day.’’ If you would like to join Ben and hundreds of other volunteers in your area contact Volunteering Central to see how you can get
Helping out: Challenge Wanaka volunteer Ben Suncin meets some ‘‘amazing’’ people.