Sept. 22, 2015
Hundreds of VCU volunteers play key role in UCI Road World Championships
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As some of the top cyclists in the world zoomed past, Megan Hansen, a research coordinator with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, helped a steady stream of spectators safely cross Monument Avenue.
“I’m part of a three-person team,” Hansen said. “Our responsibility is basically to protect the riders from people crossing, protect people crossing from the riders, and protect ourselves from getting hit by bicycles.”
Hansen is one of 671 VCU employees serving as official volunteers this week with the 2015 UCI Road World Championships.
“The large number of VCU employees serving as volunteers for the bike race … is a great example of how VCU steps up to support major initiatives of our region,” said Catherine W. Howard, Ph.D., vice provost, Division of Community Engagement. “While employees do not have to use their community service leave for this event, I hope that this participation will serve as a reminder that we have the benefit of 16 hours of leave each year to give back to our community.”
Hansen, who was serving Monday as a course marshal, said she was eager to take part in such a massive community event, and that VCU’s policies made it easy for her to volunteer.
“Having the opportunity to volunteer was great because the university allowed us to volunteer as part of our workweek,” she said. “So it’s kind of a no-brainer — why wouldn’t you want to be a part of something so huge and have it be part of your work?”
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Richmond to be hosting this worldwide competition so I just really wanted to be a part of it.
Just before the race’s finish line, Sarah Murphy, communications and office specialist for the Department of Business Services, helped groups of spectators cross the race course, making sure to avoid the cyclists flashing past amid cheers from the crowd.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Richmond to be hosting this worldwide competition so I just really wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “It’s really awesome. It’s really very exciting.”
Courtney O’Hara, a program manager for the Central Virginia Task Force for Domestic Violence in Later Life at the Virginia Center on Aging in the School of Allied Health Professions, volunteered with the bike race on Sunday and Monday and will again on Thursday.
“I’m super excited to be out here,” said O’Hara, as she served as a course marshal on Broad Street. “It showcases Richmond and shows how great this city is. It’s great that all these people are here.”
Across the street, Jazmine Parker, a senior anthropology major in the School of World Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences, said she decided to volunteer as a course marshal to get a front row seat to a global sporting event.
“It’s an event that’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I just enjoy watching sports in general, so this was an opportunity to come out and support all these amazing bike racers,” she said. “It’s almost surreal because these are world-class athletes that you’d see on TV. It’s just awesome to be out here.”
Parker is among a large number of VCU students who are volunteering with the race this week.
Another student, Rosette Cesar, a freshman who plans to major in mechanical engineering in the School of Engineering, decided to volunteer to help the community put on the event, but also to meet and interact with visitors from around the world.
“It’s been a really nice experience. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of different people from different countries, like Denmark and Pakistan. It’s pretty cool. I love talking to people, so it’s been really great,” she said. “I’ve also talked to a lot of people about VCU because a lot of [visitors] don’t know much about it, so I’ve been telling them what a great school it is.”
Dan McGarvey, Ph.D., an assistant professor in VCU’s Center for Environmental Studies, volunteered as a course marshal on Belvidere Street on Monday, making “sure that people, students, folks wearing headphones don’t blunder into the street.”
“We’re into bike racing,” he said. “It’s our thing.”
A vast number of VCU alumni are also volunteering with the event.
Mike Dunnavant, an alumnus of VCU’s School of Business, works at Dominion, which gave its employees the opportunity to volunteer with the race. “It’s a unique opportunity — it’ll probably never happen again,” he said.
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