People at the Park: Going to the games means more than being a spectator

A volunteer takes pictures of a large banner at the Olympic Park ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Samantha Johnson
Kara Biernat

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Monday afternoon at the Gangneung Olympic Park was all hustle and bustle — whether it be walking between figure skating and luge events, catching the bus or making it just in time for freebies at vendor booths.

But for those who took the time to meet new faces and shake some hands, it was worth the while.

Meet five incredible individuals who spent their Monday afternoon at Gangneung Olympic Park

Timm Jamieson (left) and friend in Olympic Park in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo: Samantha Johnson)

For Timm Jamieson and his friend, the games are about far more than competition. They're about the place that brings people together like no other event can.

"I've always loved the whole idea of the Olympics Games because you're seeing all these countries," Jamieson said. "I've traveled to 94 countries, so it's nice to see the melting pot of all the countries coming together. There are no barriers. There are no political issues. It's wonderful because you see people from every country, and it's just a special time."

The 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang are the 15th games Jamieson has attended. In the beginning, he came as a spectator, but he now works as a volunteer for Coke-a-Cola and NBC.

His favorite Olympic Games?

"Everyone asks me that,"Jamieson said. "But each one is uniquely different."

Jamieson said one aspect that has been especially unique to South Korea is the food.

"I love the food, and I didn't think I would," he said. "I'm going to miss the food because it's so indigenous and special."

But for now: "I go to events and trade pins in between, meet people and try to spread the goodwill among countries," Jamieson said.

Daniel Ackerson at Olympic Park in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo: Samantha Johnson)

With his lanyard around his neck, Daniel Ackerson is a proud fan and volunteer of Team USA.

His main responsibility inPyeongchang is to help serve and assist the National Olympic Committee, athletes and coaches.

As part of his job hosting the athletes, Ackerson explained, "We made the rooms all nice and fancy and clean. It's just helping the NOC do whatever they need."

Ackerson was originally zoned as a "sport" volunteer, which would include much more labor-intensive work, like moving flags or setting up ski slopes. Ackerson explained, however, that this position allows him to interact directly with Team USA.

And as far as the planning and hosting by South Korea, Ackerson is mostly satisfied with the results.

"It's going really well," Ackerson said. "The thing that really surprised me is they didn't look at the little details. A lot of the volunteers are being left to the side, but other than that, it's really good. They're handling things really well."

Wyatt Dillhyon show off his pins in Olympic Park in Gangenung, South Korea. (Photo: Samantha Johnson)

Wyatt Dillhyon may be behind in years of experience compared to other pin traders, but this 11-year-old certainly has the expertise.

"Before we left, my mom said that pins would be an awesome way to be friends with some people and have a conversation," Dillhyon said. "And I was all over that."

This is the first Olympic Games for the young boy from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, but this is not his first time trading pins.

Disney World can be credited for the expertise.

"And now, here we are," Dillhyon said. "I'm trading pins with a ton of people. It's really fun. I really like it."

Geoffrey Johnson takes selling and trading pins very seriously. He has more than 1,000 pins in his collection. (Photo: Samantha Johnson)

For Geoffrey Johnson, selling and trading pins is not a game. It's a business.

It all started during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Johnson was selling balloons to make extra money when he was arrested for selling souvenirs without a permit.

He then noticed one small thing: "The police weren't messing with people who were selling pins," Johnson said. "Because the police had pins, and they were trading them, too."

A stranger introduced him to his first pin shortly after, and the hobby, profit and fun took off from there.

"Now, everybody I look at has pins, and they're trading," Johnson said.

Johnson was proud to show off just a few of the rare items in his 1,000-plus pin collection.

"It went a little bit too far," Johnson said. "I got a little wild."

Braxton Humphries in Olympic Park in Gangenung, South Korea. (Photo: Samantha Johnson)

Braxton Humphries is a Team USA fan from Louisiana. Humphries is a newcomer to the Olympic Games, but not to South Korea. His first visit was in 1982.

"My wife and I lived here for 23 years as missionaries," Humphries said.

He brings a religious angle to the Winter Games, trading his pins of symbolism. The black, red, green, blue and yellow represent sin, blood, newness, heaven and preciousness, respectively.

Humphries said he hopes to spread the word of God to those all over the world through the 2018 Winter Olympics.