The annual Meijer State Games of Michigan — Winter Games begin Friday with an athlete celebration at Van Andel Arena. Courtesy fb.com
The West Michigan Sports Commission is looking for volunteers to help with its signature event, the Meijer State Games of Michigan, and it would like to have at least 901 individuals give their time to help make version 4.0 of the annual event another success.
Why 901? Because in the past about 900 have volunteered for the weekend games that will take place this year from June 20-23. Help is needed with checking the athletes in, distributing their meals and at the Athlete Village at Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps. Other opportunities are also available.
“We strive to showcase our athletes and give them an Olympic feel that many would otherwise not get to experience,” said Eric Engelbarts, executive director of the Meijer State Games of Michigan.
Those who are interested in volunteering can get complete information and sign up by going to this website.
More than 6,000 amateur athletes are expected to compete in 35 sports later this month at venues located throughout the county. Badminton, diving, field hockey and ultimate Frisbee have been added to the competition this year.
The games drew 5,780 athletes from 72 counties a year ago, which became a record number, and had an economic impact of $2 million in direct visitor spending.
Besides housing the athletes and serving as the starting point for the games’ 5K race, Fifth Third Ballpark will also host the opening ceremonies on June 21 beginning at 7 p.m. One of the events that will take place that evening is the sports commission will unveil its very first mascot.
“Fifth Third Ballpark is an outstanding venue to host our athletes, families, sponsors and the community at large,” said Engelbarts.
Meijer Inc. is the games’ major corporate sponsor, having filled that role since the event’s conception. Others involved are Subway, Cel-Factor, Metro Health, MyWay, Fox Motors, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, MC Sports, Lacks and SIBSCO.
Kent County and a panel of local business and community leaders established the sports commission in 2007. Since then, WMSC has held more than 250 events that have brought more than 300,000 people here. Those events have generated more than $100 million in visitor spending for the local economy.