By: Tina Morrison
A volunteer is defined in the dictionary as “vol·un·teer (noun) – a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task. Wikipedia says: “Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labor for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work in, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster.” What comes to mind when you think of “volunteering”? It is synonymous with these words: step forward, speak up, enlist, and offer services.
To offer your services to someone in need without expecting anything in return is the true meaning of a gift and also the truest form of volunteerism, which brings me to this conclusion: Volunteers are Superheroes! The annual SUPERHERO DAY held on the 2nd Saturday of September has grown from a private party for the late Eli Williams to a full-blown community event that draws visitors from the Southeast region. This amazing day, Saturday, September 9, 2023, hosted this year by Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association is carefully sculpted just for kids and could not exist without the help of many, many volunteers.
The day begins with a Parade of Superheroes from Athens State University at 10 a.m. Parade drivers volunteer to put the top down on their Jeeps or convertibles and escort the volunteer superheroes and Cancer Kids to the SUPERHERO DAY event site at Athens Big Spring Memorial Park between Beaty and East St. in Athens, Alabama.
Next, around 10:30 a.m., the community heroes volunteer to participate in the Community Heroes Walking Parade around the Duck Pond in Athens Big Spring Memorial Park.
For the remainder of the event, until it ends at 2 p.m., the attendees have a lot of activities, games, rides, bouncy castles, etc. to enjoy — not to mention, mixing and mingling with their favorite superheroes, while our DJ spins fun songs! There will be photo ops with the superheroes on a stage in front of giant lighted SUPERHERO letters, a golden pinwheel garden, and many other opportunities to donate to childhood cancer, while having fun. There will be carnival rides like swings and teacups and a giant inflatable slide and bouncy house, which are all FREE this year. We will also have plenty of food, drinks, dessert vendors, face painters selling their items, and an ATM on site. Volunteer crews throughout the day will help to keep the kids safe and the park clean, making sure everyone has a safe and fun day.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our very generous sponsors, who have donated cold hard cash; without them, we could not produce this incredible SUPERHERO event. They are The Dekko Foundation in Indiana; WestRock in Athens, Alabama; two Alabama Tourism grants from both Senator Tim Melson and Representative Ben Harrison; and Toyna Carter with our local First National Bank.
Thank you to Athens City Parks and Recreation for donating the use of Athens Big Spring Memorial Park. Athens State University for donating the stage and tent and the use of their parking lots. Trader Joe’s for donating bags to hold the day’s prizes, Texas Roadhouse for donating lunch for the volunteers, and Grayson Carter and Son Contracting for donating cases of bottled water for volunteers. *Note: We still need breakfast for volunteers donated, please. The Grand Prize Giveaway includes a complimentary hotel stay donated by Bob Kumar of The Omega Hotel Group, a complimentary meal donated by Matt and Rhonda Fisher of Wildwood Deli, and a complimentary carriage ride donated by Stan Smith of Wild Hearts Cowboy Carriage Rides. The Athens Lions Club is donating the use of their train, and we have over 25 local businesses who are volunteering their services to set up vendor booths and provide fun free games for the kids, including a petting zoo by Limestone Pediatric Dentistry and the Boyd Family.
Lastly, we would like to thank our volunteer coordinators, who are volunteers themselves: Jasmine Sanderfer has stepped up to coordinate all the volunteer crew. Karlee Morse has stepped up to coordinate all the volunteer superheroes and Kristie Williams has stepped up to coordinate the Cancer Kids. Tina Morrison is coordinating the parade driver volunteers. We need volunteers of all ages and we really hope to include you as part of our amazing volunteer super crew this year! Can you help us by volunteering for this event?
- Do you have an inner superhero waiting to come out and delight hundreds of kids?
- Do you have a black suit that you can wear and volunteer as one of the Shield Superheroes?
- Do you have a Jeep or convertible that you can volunteer as a parade driver?
- Do you need volunteer hours for school or scholarships?
- Can you spare a few hours to be a volunteer crew member? We have tasks that need filling like:
- Help inside the air-conditioned green room with breakfast and lunch for volunteers
- Help with parking and traffic safety
- Help superheroes with costumes and accessories
- Help with parade lineup
- Pick up donated lunch in Madison and deliver it to the event
- Assist vendors with loading and unloading
- Help setting up and taking down 10×10 tents
- Monitor bouncy castles to maintain kids’ safety and equipment integrity
- Help with clean-up during and after the event
- Help with Childhood Cancer Donation stations
- Help with Raffle Ticket Donations
- Help with Pinwheel Garden Donations
Please see below for all of our contact information and please feel free to reach out to any of us with any questions.
By: Tina Morrison, Tourism Athens