From running to skiing to skating, Dick Voneugen has used his passion and skills to help make Prince George rich in events and facilities for 25 years.
Voneugen, born in Holland and a Prince George resident since the 1960s, began his involvement in local athletics in 1978 when he helped start the Prince George Roadrunners. Voneugen served as president of the organization for 10 years, giving it the solid foundation it continues to stand on today. The club’s Grand Prix Series is currently recognized as one of the best in B.C.
Still with running, Voneugen took over the organizational responsibilities of the Prince George to Boston Marathon in 1984 and re-named it the Labour Day Classic. Each year, the Classic attracts runners from around the province and from 1984 to 1998, Voneugen looked after the course layout, setup and take-down.
One of the participants in the P.G. to Boston Marathon was Terry Fox. After Fox was claimed by cancer in 1981, Voneugen stepped in to coordinate the first Terry Fox Run in Prince George and remained a member of the organizing committee until 1998. Thanks to Voneugen’s organizational and promotional skills during that time, the event raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the search for a cure for cancer.
On the track, Voneugen has also made invaluable contributions. His first foray onto the track came when he put together teams for the once popular Corporate Cup Relay. In 1990 he began his involvement in the B.C. Senior Games by organizing the local track and field team that participated in the event. Voneugen, who has also been a B.C. Senior Games competitor, assumed the responsibility of area coordinator for the Games from 1990 to 1995. Voneugen has also been a key contributor to the ongoing success of the Kids Fun Triathlon and has given his support to the Family “Y” Road Race and Marathon.
Voneugen’s contributions can also be seen in two of the city’s best trail systems. He was involved in the construction of the Otway Nordic Centre and when the Cranbrook Hill Greenaway Trail opened in the mid 90s, it did so with Voneugen’s fingerprints all over it. Cross-country skiers use the trail, a length of 25 kilometres, in the winter and it is a favourite spot for hikers and cyclists in the summer.
With skating, Voneugen founded the Outdoor Ice Oval committee in 1998, with an eye toward cementing the yearly existence of an Olympic-sized speed skating oval in Prince George. The oval, which had an on-again off-again history in the years prior to 1998, has grown into one of the most popular winter facilities in the city, attracting 16,000 users in 2001-2002. Voneugen and his committee members raised the required amount of money to buy all the maintenance equipment for the oval. On cold winter nights, it is not uncommon for Voneugen to be out on the oval, flooding the surface for the next day’s visitors.Use of the venue is free to the public.
For all his time and effort in helping make this city’s sports scene a top-notch one, Voneugen has found his rightful place in the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame as a builder and administrator.