11 November 2022

Patricia Deroo: “Their smiles are my gold medal

Live an experience and make unique human encounters. Create strong links between volunteers and with the organizing committee. These World Para Athletics Championships – PARIS’23 will undoubtedly leave you with unforgettable memories. To discover the richness of the Volunteer Program, we went to meet several volunteers who worked on different events of the French Handisport Federation.

For this second portrait, we met Patricia Deroo. Patricia, 64 years old, was a salesperson in the chemical and food ingredients trade. Present at the last Handisport Open Paris, Patricia has already applied to be part of the adventure of the Para Athletics World Championships – PARIS’23. With us, she looks back on her adventure as a volunteer.

On the picture, we can see Patricia Deroo. She has white hair, wears a blue shirt and carries a sign with the flag of Spain

Hi Patricia. To begin with, how long have you been volunteering?

Patricia Deroo : « I was in a gymnastics club where my daughter was a member, for about 20 years. I was helping in different positions in competitions, training, etc. It was on a small scale at first, and I started on a large scale after I retired in 2015. So I put one foot in volunteering starting with Euro soccer in 2016 and then I put the second foot, both arms and head! »

How long have you been volunteering with the Handisport Federation?

P.D : « I started the handisport adventure in 2019, with the Handisport Open Paris. I had registered on other events of the federation, but with the covid, they were cancelled. And when the sport started again, I came back to help handisport. »

How did you discover the para sport world?

P.D : « I have always been aware of the handicap, having a nephew in this situation and it often happened to speak to me about it. But I started the adventure thanks to friends who had participated in handisport events. They wanted me to come with them to the Handisport Open Paris and that’s how I got involved. »

What made you want to continue the adventure with the French Handisport Federation?

P.D : « For me, an event with or without disabilities is basically the same thing. It remains a sporting event, where you meet sportsmen, organizers and other volunteers. But in handisport, there is another dimension because the sportsmen have an unfailing humility, which is equal to their mental and their performance. You get a lot of it in each competition and in the different accompaniments that you can do. Moreover, I am a person who likes to help others, so I feel much more useful with handisport. And the best thing about the federation is that we are recognized by the organizers and the athletes. »

What are the different missions you have done?

P.D : « It all depends on the location. If the event is too far from my home, I am usually on the airport reception since I live near Roissy – Charles de Gaulle airport. And when the event is in Paris, like at the Charlety stadium for example, I am assigned to the media department. It’s a job that I discovered and that I regularly ask for, because you can discover the backstage while being close to the athletes as well. »

What has made the biggest impact on you as a volunteer?

P.D : « When I do the welcome at the airport, we are really with the athletes and it is the best way to see the power of human values. When you see their smiles when they see us welcoming them, it warms your heart. And in a way, we are also the first image of the federation when they arrive. So by talking to them and helping them, we show that we are passionate about what we do and we show the athletes that they are in good hands. And when we get their thanks, and their smiles, I always say that’s my gold medal. »

Did you make connections with other volunteers as you went along?

P.D : « We are a small family at heart. We all know each other because we meet regularly on different events. The fact that we are often together, allows us to create links and to take news from each other, even when there is no event. »

What would you like to say to the general public to get them involved in the World Championships volunteer program?

P.D : « Go for it and you won’t regret it. It will always be engraved in your memory so join the World Championships volunteer team! »