Ben’s labour of love for Wanaka

Vol­un­teer­ing a real buzz

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

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.

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