Dan Whiteleather Will Carry His Olympic Memories for a Lifetime
Dan Whiteleather of Castle Dale decided long ago that he hoped to be chosen as a volunteer to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. He had been to two summer games but not to a winter games.
"I like to volunteer," which is an understatement for Whiteleather, who works at Utah Power's Huntington Plant, is in his fourth term as Castle Dale City Councilman, has been on the recreation district board for nine years, and helps lots of other times and places when needed. "I just like meeting people. And I met lots!"
He "buddied up with" Owen Johnson of Lawrence (who was a volunteer at Snowbasin). They stayed in Ogden and commuted each day and said that there were "no" traffic problems, either early or late. Whiteleather worked as an Athlete Transportation Host right at the Olympic Village. He would greet athletes, help get them and their equipment loaded onto the vans that took them to the various venues. He sometimes had to wait with them for the next or the right van, and met several times with most of the skaters. He met all the medals winners of the skating events. The days were nice and people seemed to enjoy visiting. The Russians had a translator and so the conversations and questions were easier, longer, and a lot of fun. "We just tried to make sure everyone got where they needed to go and on time. Sometimes it took a little ingenuity to make sure equipment and people got to the right venue in plenty of time."
He was issued one of the Mountain Shadow blue uniforms and had his badge, but like everyone else, he went through security everyday going in and going out; every volunteer and every athlete had to do the same.
"I was most impressed with the friendliness of everyone, the athletes, the volunteers; everyone was so polite, and there to have fun," said Whiteleather, "even the waits were so pleasant."
He enjoyed watching athletes receive medals at the Medals Plaza one evening (a curling team, a bob sled team, and others), and visited outside while this was happening, watching on the big screen TV, another three times. "The lighting in downtown Salt Lake was just amazing - so enjoyable."
His daughter, Danielle, and her mom got to go to one bobsled event but he gave away all his tickets to venues because he had to work such crazy hours. He came home with many Olympic pins, "traded a bunch, traded some with the athletes, too." He has the famous "green jello" pin, that is highly coveted.
He saw Jock Rogue, IOC President, who stayed at the Olympic Village. He met and felt bad for the Canadian pairs skaters (who won the gold medal eventually) who were so hounded by the media everywhere they went. He gave lots of directions to places downtown. Athletes had their own telephones and computers while at the Olympic Village. He ate at McDonalds for free every day; all the volunteers and athletes could eat there at anytime.
"It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience for me." He plans to go to Greece as a volunteer if he can. If that doesn't happen, he will try for Italy. "The last day was so good. I stayed from noon until after 6 p.m.," Whiteleather recalled, "I just didn't want it to end."