When Caroline McIntosh heard that her home city of Toronto would host the Invictus Games in 2017, she immediately put her hand up to volunteer. A proud Dutch Canadian, Caroline saw it as an opportunity to honour the servicemen and servicewomen of both nations. Caroline was one of more than a thousand people to volunteer at the Games, describing it as a humbling experience. We asked Caroline about her volunteer journey.
Caroline, what did you most enjoy about your experience at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017?
It was one of the richest and most emotional experiences in a life fully lived. The Games, the competitors, and their family and friends, provided me with opportunity after opportunity to experience the very best of the human condition. The courage, determination and strength of character which I saw on display humbled me and left me in awe of the conviction that love and support can provide these courageous individuals. It was amazing to witness the experience of belonging to a brotherhood and sisterhood which allowed competitors to come back from the brink of despair, to the pinnacle of triumph that few of us could ever understand or experience. The Games were everything I had thought they would be, and yet, far more than I could have imagined.
What inspired you to Volunteer for the Games?
I am a proud Dutch Canadian, having immigrated with my parents and sisters in 1967 from the Netherlands. The Dutch have always had a very special relationship with Canada, ever since the time of World War 2 when the Netherlands was occupied by the Germans. As part of my Heritage, I too embraced the legacy of the Canadian Soldiers and as an adult with children I committed myself to honouring that legacy. I made sure my two sons understood the value and importance of the Canadian Military’s role in the liberation of the Netherlands and instilled a pride in them for the fact they, too, were of Dutch Canadian descent. On 29 May 2016 I watched the closing ceremonies of the Orlando Invictus Games and while watching Prince Harry’s final speech I knew I had found my next opportunity.
How did the Invictus Games impact you outside of your experience at the Games themselves?
Participating in the Games, the coordinated effort to organise them and then to participate in the actual delivery of the Games, gave me the opportunity to see “behind the scenes” of such a high profile event. It gave me the opportunity to inspire others to be more giving and compassionate about the effort one can put in to make it a better world for those around us. It also provided me with a different and very humbling experience of the resilience and strength of those who had to overcome grievous injuries to body and soul. Through my experience, I gave others around me the chance to be given a totally different perspective on “disability” and change their way of thinking about it.