Noah: Hello! I am Noah Valencia. Welcome to USADSF Spotlight with Noah. Today, we have a special guest, Dwight Benedict. He was chairperson for the 2007 Winter Deaflympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now, I will ask him a few questions, alright?
Dwight: I’m ready!
Noah: Great. Let’s start with this question, how did USADSF get the bid to host the Winter Deaflympics?
Dwight: It has been a struggle for ICSD, formerly CISS, finding a host for the Deaflympics. It used to be easy to have countries host the Games. But now it has become harder and harder, so in 2001, ICSD approached several countries to host. Donalda Ammons declared that there might be no Games in 2007. Many countries rallied and attempted to make the Games possible but with no success. In 2003, in Sweden (during s2003 Winter Deaflympics), ICSD asked the USA to host the 2007 Winter Deaflympics. Bobbie Beth Scoggins, president of USADSF, or maybe in transition with Larry Fleischer, and Jack Lamberton were feeling the possibilities. At that time I was involved with the US ski team, staying focused on the ski team. Bobbie Beth, Larry and Jack, then decided to go ahead and accept the host bid. They decided to advertise the position for the chairperson so I applied for it. Then I had only two years left to really move forward for the Games. I must really thank USADSF for saving the 2007 games from being cancelled. That was what really happened. The United States never really bid for it but they stepped up when ICSD asked for help.
Noah: So we went ahead with it. Why did you take that position when you were focused on the skiing team?
Dwight: Yes. In the past, when I started in 1987 in Norway (Winter Deaflympics), it was my first experience with the US ski team. Then they added cross country skiing, snowboarding, then hockey and then the list goes on. In 1987, 1991 (Canada), 1995 (Finland), 1999 (Switzerland), and many more, I was involved with the ski team. I hosted many skiing trials and tryouts, so with that experience, I had a lot of training. Plus, I ran YLC (Youth Leadership Camp) for two summers, so there were many opportunities. Until that time, in 2003, I felt ready and there was an opportunity, so I left the USA team and led the 2007 Games.
Noah: Wow, two year of preparation, you mentioned?
Noah: While that time, what are the challenges that you faced?
Dwight: Money. The number one, money! It cost around 4 to 5 million dollars, I can go for 10 millions dollars for the best Winter Deaflympics ever, but we tried to stay focused on the Games itself rather than being extravagant. We still needed 3 to 4 million dollars. It was a challenge, so we talked to as many people as much as possible to help. Again, we had many good people, like I just mentioned previously, they jumped aboard to help out and we got to set up a Board. VRS (Video Relay Service) were very generous with sponsorship money at that time when they could offer as much as 20% that they could give money back to the community. So, I talked with Sorenson, who invested so much in the Games that they included full-time employees in their sponsorship package. CSD (Communication Service of the Deaf) also invested large amounts which included full time workers as well. Additionally, Gallaudet University allowed me to work as a Chair of the 2007 Winter Deaflympics while on the job for two years between 2005 to 2007. I was able to operate the planning of the 2007 Winter Deaflympics instead of being on the job for Gallaudet. So with all those companies who invested in us; with all the supporters we had, I was able to push for more sponsorships. We barely made it within two years. We collected around 3.4 million dollars to make it happen with different sponsors coming in, including the support of a strong deaf community in Utah. They were very eager to participate and volunteered their time. I am blessed for them. Really, I thank everybody.
Noah: Unbelievable! Now, this is the last question. What is your most memorable or rewarding memory of hosting the games?
Dwight: What was inspiring for me was to see our athletes be involved in the competition and win medals, that was the most memorable. And another great memory was that almost all of our countries slept at the same hotel. It was amazing, the eating, interacting and communicating was amazing! The hotel was called the “Little America Hotel” in Salt Lake City. This was one of the most memorable experiences, it was great! I hope to see more of this. In Italy, at the recent 2019 Winter Deaflympics, it was very successful, but the hotels were located at three to four different places. Regardless, I was happy to have the Games! I am still involved as the ICSD TD (Technical Director) for skiing. I am still very much involved . However, it’s time for younger people to take over!
Noah: Skiing is in your heart that it can’t say no to what you love to do.
Noah: USADSF thanks Dwight Benedict for his time. Until then, so long!