By Estefania Wujkiw
The athletes of the Canada Summer Games have shown nothing short of fierce athleticism, but our volunteers are not far behind with their friendly hospitality and staggering enthusiasm.
Meet Tammy Chwaiewsky: a volunteer who brings her A game anywhere she goes, and who may be just as excited for the Games as the athletes, if not more.
“This has been the best volunteer experience. It has been so much fun; it has been nothing but laughs,” she said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Her passion for swimming is palpable. She has been involved as a former swimmer, then later on as a lifeguard, instructor, supervisor of swimming classes, and volunteer coach.
When she was 25-years-old, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain.“I couldn’t walk for one month and I thought I’d never walk again,” she said.
Specialists prescribed strong medications that masked her pain, but never got to the root of the problem, she explained.
“I took matters into my own hands and today, I am seven years free of medications,” she said. “I can swim comfortably and consistently for five minutes. It took 23 years to get to this point, but my swimming and the kids I coach keep me moving forward.”
Due to her disability status, she can’t get a full-time job, which is why she volunteers instead. “Swimming is part of my healing process. This is where I belong, where I am home,” she said.
She was certainly in her zone when she was assigned to the athletes’ village where she interacted with 81 sailing athletes.
She spent her time getting to know them by throwing a football around, high-fiving, giving hugs and being supportive with good conversations. The bond she formed has been so remarkable that the athletes invited her to celebrate with them at a dance taking place later on this week.
“A few athletes said ‘it is a must that you come. And bring your dance shoes,” she chuckled. “I don’t disappoint athletes; I felt honoured so I will be there.
The memories that these athletes gave me are the best,” she said.