Yellow Shirted Volunteers Show Off Best of Surprise/Sundancers
When Surprise opened the 10,500−seat Surprise Stadium eight years ago, it also launched a formidable volunteer group − the Surprise Sundancers.
More than 700 volunteers, clad in bright−yellow polo shirts, are on hand at every Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers spring−training games and other civic activities at the stadium at the Surprise Recreation Campus.
The Sundancers also are involved in the second annual CTCA Outback Tennis Champions Series, Oct. 8−11, headlined this year by multiple Grand Slam−tournament winners Andre Agassi and Mats Wilander.
But the Sundancers have evolved into so much more than "helpful folk in yellow shirts." They were instrumental in raising funds and to build DreamCatcher Park, a fully accessible playing field for physically and developmentally disabled children.
The 2007 dedication ceremony was a memorable and moving experience for Sundancers board President Jeanne Blackman.
"Personally, and I would say the organization as a whole, we're most proud of the donation that was made to DreamCatcher Park," said Blackman, community development manager for Arizona Public Service in the Northwest Valley.
"The ribbon cutting was an emotional day for all who participated. There was not a dry eye in the park as you watched the joy in the faces of the children, parents, city officials, residents, as well as the Sundancers' volunteers and board members. It was a day I will remember for the rest of my life."
Sundancers board member Herman Orcutt, of Orcutt Winslow Partnership, designed the park pro bono. Kudos are heaped upon them by visitors and community members alike.
"The Surprise Sundancers are the ambassadors of good will and quality customer service at the Surprise Recreation Campus," said Mark Coronado, the city's recreation director. "Their positive reputation and dedication continues to grow. Those who visit the recreation campus routinely compliment their volunteer and youth−charity fundraising efforts."
Once committed, Sundancer volunteers are apt to remain active. Larry Kruse is a charter member, as are his 90 crew members. "I feel you've got to give something back to the community, and besides, keeping busy keeps you young and keeps you out of trouble," said the 75−year−old Kruse, who is also active in other area civic clubs.
Kruse, a former Federal Aviation Administration field logistics specialist for 37 years, has had his hand in the youth sports programs in other cities.
"I ran a big sports complex for kids in Colorado Springs and then went to Oklahoma City to work with the VFW sports program," said Kruse, who oversees the money counters and program sales. "This complex and what we do here, I think is one of the best in the country. We're known from coast to coast."
Kruse says he often hears compliments from visitors about "those guys in the yellow shirts."
"We know what we're doing, we've got the background and we treat people right," he said. "For me, it's the camaraderie of the Sundancers is what makes it fun. We've got good people out there.