Each year over 3,000 volunteers work at events such as the Madison Marathon that are organized by Madison Festivals, Inc. Volunteers' efforts help them raise money for their favorite charitable causes. The six members of the Kraemer family have long participated in helping the Madison Marathon and other events run smoothly. We recently spoke to Kevin Kraemer about his family’s involvement and what it means to all of them.
Focal Flame Photography (FFP): How long have you volunteered for Madison Marathon Events?
Kevin: My family has volunteered for about the last four years at many of the different events that are put on thru Madison Festivals and Race Day Events.
FFP: How did you get started?
Kevin: I believe we first got started by signing up to help out at the Taste of Madison.
FFP: What does being a volunteer entail? What kind of things do you do?
Kevin: There are many different jobs at the events that can be done by a wide range of abilities - from something as easy as checking people in for their races, to handing out packets, picking up trash, handing out water bottles, watching over personal items at Gear Check, handing out medals to the racers as they cross the finish line, set up and tear down, and many others. I once volunteered at a triathlon with my daughter in a two-person kayak to help with the water safety team to watch over the swimmers during that part of the triathlon. It was fun for us spending time out in the lake together helping out a few people who really needed a rest break or even to help them be pulled from the race due to not being able to finish.
Volunteers are desperately needed in a lot of different jobs to make an event like Taste of Madison and all of the races that go on. I have been to a race (as a racer) in the past that was not staffed well (it was not the ones mentioned here), and things didn't go well You would not believe how much the volunteers are needed until they aren't there.
FFP: Why do you choose to volunteer? What does it mean to you?
Kevin: There are a total of 6 people in our Kraemer family, and we are all avid Scouters. Our 4 kids are going through the ranks of Boy Scouts. We have two girls and two boys. The girls were in Girl Scouts when they were younger and then joined the Boy Scout Venture Crew when they turned 14. So as you know scouting trips and supplies cost money. We are teaching the kids many useful things in and out of the wilderness. The fundraising opportunities that are available by volunteering our time at the Madison Marathons and Festivals allows our Scouting families to be involved in scouting to help offset the cost of the program. In some cases, families that could not afford to go on the outings would be paid for through their volunteer fundraising efforts. In other cases, some supplies that are needed to help run the programs are paid for by those same volunteer opportunities. We are all very thankful that we can help out and volunteer at on event to help out another organization that we care so much about: Boy Scouts of America.
FFP: Do you have any favorite stories about your volunteer experiences?
Kevin: Some of our first tasks were walking around picking up trash and emptying the trash cans and replacing liners then taking the full trash to spots along the buildings for the golf cart crew to pick up. I remember one instance that will stay with me forever. I was riding around in one of the golf carts with my your son picking up piles of filled trash bags to take them around the block to the nearest dumpster. When we got to one of the dumpsters, my son stood on the back of the golf cart and tried to raise one of the trash bags (filled with food waste and some liquids) above his head and lift it over the side wall of the 30 yard dumpster. Well, he wasn't tall enough at the time so he was standing there with the full bag above his head while liquid is dripping all over him and he was saying "Dad I can't get it over." It was hilarious. I had to show him how to swing the bags up in the air to go over the side after that.
FFP: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Kevin: My family likes to volunteer because of the fun different experiences and meeting new people. There is never a dull moment as a volunteer ... well, I guess it also depends on which job you are doing. Watching racers' gear in the middle of a race kind of gets a little boring unless you play music and dance around like a weird person ... I have never done that before ... right? The paid staff that run the races really do care about the volunteers and treat us well.
This article is part of a series featuring athletes and others who are participating in a Madison Marathon event in 2016. Focal Flame Photography is honored to serve as official photographers for the Madison Marathon. All runners will receive free FocalShare™ digital race photos courtesy of the event organizers. The autumn events will take place on November 13, 2016 on the streets of our capitol city.
-by Suellen Adams