“They were the best days of my life,” remarked three-time Paralympic swimmer André van Buiten after volunteering at the Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023.
André van Buiten was one of the thousands of volunteers who helped make Düsseldorf 2023 so special and the Paralympian has said that his experience at the Invictus Games has changed him forever.
“As a three times Paralympic Swimmer myself I thought I had seen and experienced almost everything, but the Invictus Games were an eyeopener to me,” he said.
Andre is no stranger to international sport, having competed at the Arnhem 1980, Stoke Mandeville & New York 1984, and Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games.
He competed in a variety of swimming disciplines and won a total of four gold medals and six silver medals across his competitive career.
Volunteering has become a big part of Andre’s life now, as he also volunteered at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023.
What struck Andre the most during his time volunteering at the Invictus Games was the displays of friendship and support given to everyone.
“The comradery amongst the competitors was impressive to say the least,” and Andre was particularly touched by his time helping the officiating at the swimming event.
The Paralympic swimmer started helping at the Info Desk, then moved to the Medal Ceremony team before using his years of experience to assist the officiating team and competitors at the Rheinbad (swimming venue).
Andre then spent the next three days in the pool and described his time there as “the best days of my life”.
He described the group of people who worked there as a “super team” and was humbled by his interactions with the competitors.
Andre received a bracelet from a member of the Ukrainian team as thanks for his help at the pool and he has been wearing it every day since in support of their struggle against Russia.
This won’t be the end for Andre at the Invictus Games as he said that they “are now part of my life and I hope to be at many more in the future.”