ELKO – Local veteran groups received the gift of increased mobility when Barrick Gold Corp,’s Goldstrike operation process division donated 80 wheelchairs, concluding a month-long team building event.
Barrick employees built the wheelchairs at Elko City Park as part of a month-long team-building exercise throughout July, said Scott Arendt, general supervisor of process training for Goldstrike operations.
“It is part of a team-building game where they are competing for points,” Arendt said, explaining that chair assembly took about 20 minutes. The event also included water-balloon games and food challenges.
Although the activity allowed the employees to compete for points and build relationships, the real reward came when they presented the wheelchairs to veterans from the VFW Post 2350, Veteran’s Training Resource Center and Horizon Hospice at the Red Lion Inn and Casino on July 27.
“It’s really good for the employees,” said Arendt, who explained that donors are able to meet the recipients and understand what the donation means to them.
Employees Rory Wilcox and Gerrit Bowden worked together to assemble a wheelchair and Wilcox said he liked the opportunity to help veterans.
“We’re doing something constructive,” Bowden said.
Barrick has hosted previous team events such building bicycles for children at the Boys & Girls Club of Elko and donating food to Committee Against Domestic Violence Harbor House.
Veteran Daniel “Lt. Dan” Holman of North Las Vegas transported the wheelchairs after the July event. The 20-year U.S. Army veteran represented groups including the VFW and American Legion. He said he is “currently the only legless motorcycle rider in Nevada.”
Holman also founded “wheelcharriers,” which seeks to have wheelchairs donated to Harley-Davidson dealerships so that someone could more easlily get around the store.
“By one wheelchair helping one, it helps a lot,” Holman said.
Paul Valentine, team-building facilitator for SmartHunts agreed, adding that a wheelchair can change the life of a veteran’s, especially if homeless or unemployed.
“This is the start of them getting to the VA … to be able to go to job interviews because they are more mobile, then they have a house and then they get some money,” Valentine said. “It all started with someone giving them a wheelchair. They will never forget the day they got a wheelchair.”
Valentine explained that although the event was fun for the employees, it helped to have a greater purpose.
“It’s the best type of team-building event,” Valentine said. “It’s a charitable team-building.”