Hermann Schweizer started his volunteer journey with the Red River Exhibition Association in 1996, ahead of the Pan Am games. He worked alongside the committee In-charge of the equestrian site at the Red River Exhibition Park. The project deadline they were given at the time was quite ambitious. The equestrian site required completion before the Pan Am test event in 1998, which left Hermann and his team two years to complete the project. Were they able to accomplish it? Absolutely!
“You see the jumping ring? There was a swamp right there. People thought the transformation wasn’t possible, but my team and I proved them wrong.”– Hermann Schweizer (Recipient – Volunteer Award of Merit, 2018)
To achieve the ambitious transformation goal ahead of the Pan Am games, Hermann led with an aggressive goal-oriented approach. He was responsible for critical decision-making, planning and resource allocation. His ground-breaking ideas received encouraging support from Jennifer Perron, Head of the Equestrian committee. Together, Jennifer and Hermann made some remarkable selections around volunteer assignments. They handpicked volunteers for positions that best suited each volunteer’s skills and abilities. They had all the people in the right spots.
Reminiscing about the good ole days, Hermann added, “We didn’t ask the volunteers whether they’re a doctor or a painter; we identified the hidden potential that best suited this project. We had no time to waste. “
The project brought together several individuals from the vibrant community of Winnipeg. At the start of the project, they were all strangers. Even people who wouldn’t have their paths crossed with each other came together to achieve the shared objective. Many of these volunteers became life-long friends. Perhaps, this camaraderie is the indispensable ingredient of every memorable volunteering experience.
A people’s person!
Hermann builds lasting relationships everywhere he goes with his witty sense of humour and charming personality. Perpetually on the hunt for opportunities to add value, Hermann actively participated in various fundraising activities. He also contributed to developing a robust security protocol for the horses participating in the Pan Am games.
Over the next several years, Hermann continued to be engaged with the various operations of the Association. The Pan Am games were long gone, and there were several developments around the property. The mighty jumper ring that once enthralled the audience was trimmed down to a significantly smaller size. A team member brought up eliminating the jumper ring to enhance cost efficiency. We were about to lose sight of the vision behind the jumping ring. The initial goal was to build a sustainable site that would last beyond the games. Were we about to lose sight of that goal?
This was an exciting time with a plethora of exciting changes and new developments. Hermann couldn’t let the jumping ring and the vision behind get lost in the cacophony of big, bright and beautiful things that were coming up at the time. Along with his dear friend and Board member, Rick Payne, Hermann approached the recently appointed visionary CEO, Garth Rogerson, who patiently listened to Hermann and identified the immense passion for horses and the Red River Exhibition Park facility. Under the ambitious leadership of the current CEO, Garth Rogerson, the jumping ring from Pan Am games got a new lease of life. The increased investment in supporting the equestrian ring brought us closer to the horse community.
Fast forward to the present, the Red River Exhibition Association is all set to launch a multi-purpose track this year which will become the home of Manitoba Harness Racing. This sustainable facility is very aptly called ‘The Loop‘. It will allow the Association to host various events throughout the year.
(The Red River Exhibition Park is undergoing a remarkable development expected to complete this year with the addition of a multi-purpose race track, a theme park, and an Indigenous Village. Stay tuned to learn more!)
After all these years, Hermann’s work with the Association is anything but complete. He continues to lend support and guidance to the team, encouraging the best ideas and helping them come to life. Due to his incredible contribution, Hermann was awarded the prestigious Volunteer of the Year in 2018. The Association, management, staff and all the volunteers are incredibly grateful for the immeasurable contribution by Hermann Schweizer.