As Olympic athletes are going for gold a couple of Central Albertans will be serving them at the golden arches.
Keltie Gibson, of Red Deer, and Jordan Hreherchuk, of Sylvan Lake, are two of the 300 McDonald’s workers chosen from across Canada to work in the Athletes Village in Whistler during the Olympics in February.
While there they may run into a Lacombe athlete Ty Wagar, who was chosen for the McDonald’s Champion Kid program to attend the Olympics in VIP style.
The McDonald’s South location, at 2502 50 Ave., in Red Deer was able to send someone after winning one of the top restaurant spots across the country, as judged by the most guest counts, increased sales and high scores by mystery shoppers.
Gibson, 24, who works as the second assistant manager there, assumed the restaurant manager or first assistant manager above her would go, but then they told her she was the one they’d chosen to go to the Olympics to work.
“I cried and I was shaking,” Gibson said. “I never thought in a million years I would get to go.”
She started working for McDonald’s at age 16, while living in St. Albert. Her first job was cleaning off the tables at the busy restaurant, but eventually she learned how to do till, drive-thru and grill.
She started working at the McDonald’s South location in Red Deer after moving to Red Deer to be with her fiancé in the fall and she is in charge of the training program and orientation for all of the stores in Red Deer, as well as doing schedules and day-to-day shift management.
While at the Olympics though she could do any number of jobs as part of the regular crew, helping to serve the athletes and media at the Whistler McDonald’s that will be open 24 hours a day.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for sure,” Gibson said. “We’ll serve the best of the best and we have to be at our best.”
Hreherchuk, 18, has also worked with McDonald’s for a long time, starting at age 13 in 2005 and first working the front counter before moving to grill and now serving as assistant manager at the Hewlett Park McDonald’s in Sylvan Lake. It’s a family affair in his case, with his mother Tanya, father Grant and grandmother Maryann all working at McDonald’s.
Hreherchuk found out he would be going to work at the Athletes Village in June after the restaurant where he worked scored high for being one of the fastest drive-thrus.
“McDonald’s is a great place to work. They do so much for their employees,” Hreherchuk said.
As part of the trip both Gibson and Hreherchuk will get to go to an Olympic event, go to a formal event, do some sightseeing and other activities.
Gibson is saving some room in her suitcases for souvenirs and hopes to trade some pins while there. Both Gibson and Hreherchuk are looking forward to meeting their colleagues from all over the country.
McDonald’s will also be sending 12-year-old Lacombe student Ty Wagar, along with a parent or guardian, after he was chosen for the worldwide McDonald’s Champion Kids program.
The Grade 7 student was chosen based on his commitment to fitness, which includes participating in cross-country running, soccer, basketball, badminton and floor hockey at his school and Pee Wee AA hockey and baseball outside of school. He also referees at intramurals, helps with school spirit days and trained to be a peer supporter at his school to help mediate conflicts.
During the Olympics he will get to go to the opening ceremony, a men’s speedskating event, tour the Athlete’s Village and meet Olympic athletes.