Our Olympians know how to party Hedley, hamburgers and hockey stars. A street party doesn't get any better. I spent last Thursday afternoon at the Canadian Olympic Block Party at Maple Leaf Square in downtown Toronto. Sponsors decided to throw a bash to give our athletes the best show of support in the countown to the 2012 Summer Games in London. And the athletes were there, primed and pumped. [caption id="attachment_11469" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Olympic skater Joannie Rochette: "We couldn't do it without the support and love of our families and friends." (Photo: Doug O'Neill)"] [/caption] Mark Tewksbury, who's been named Chef de Mission for Team Canada (there's a good reason he's in demand as a motivational speaker), welcomed a couple dozen Olympians onto the stage - on the heels of a high-octane Hedley concert (if we could tap into Jacob Hoggard's bottomless well of energy, we'd win every speed event hands-down). The parade of Olympians welcomed onstage included Canadian sports heroes such as figure-skater Joannie Rochette, rowing champ Marnie McBean, speed skater Denny Morrison, and hockey player Jennifer Botterill. There were a couple dozen Olympians sporting funky signature red sunglasses. Our own videographer accompanied me and captured some great footage here. [HTML1] Capturing the Olympic spirit [caption id="attachment_11445" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Denny Morrison (silver medalist, speed skating) and Deidra Dionne (bronze medal, freestyle skier). Photo: Doug O'Neill"] [/caption] [caption id="attachment_11437" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Jennifer Botterill, Canadian Women's Hockey Team (Photo: Doug O'Neill)"] [/caption] [caption id="attachment_11463" align="aligncenter" width="316" caption="Hedley kicks it up a few notches during the Olympic kick-off (Photo: Doug O'Neill)"] [/caption] [caption id="attachment_11454" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="What's a party without Hedley!"] [/caption] "Give your everything" "I'm just going to do my best. I'll give everything I've got - and so will my teammates. That's just what we do," said Kelsey Titmarsh, who's on the Canadian rhythmic gymnastics team. This will be the first time Canada competes at the Olympics in this group event; rhythmic gymnasts were only admitted into the Games in Atlanta back in 1996). Other athletes echoed the same message over and over again. It was heart-warming and also humbling. The "Give Your Everything" slogan struck me as more than a handy tag line. It sums up the commitment, sacrifice and grueling pace the Olympians put themselves through - along with their families and supporters. If you haven't already wiped away a tear watching the Procter & Gamble "Thank You Mom" video series, grab a tissue and click here. It takes a huge team to send an athlete to the Olympics. Supportive families are crucial. So too are sponsors. Procter & Gamble have put their support behind an entire roster of Canadian athletes bound for London: kayaker Adam van Koeverden, cyclist Clara Hughes, triathlon competitors Paula Findlay and Simon Whitfield, to mention a few. [caption id="attachment_11434" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Wall of good wishes for our Canadian Olympians (Photo: Doug O'Neill)"] [/caption] Fans flocked to the "Give Your Everything" wall (pictured here) to scribble messages of support for their favourite Olympians. You couldn't help but notice how many messages of encouragement were penned for diver Alexandre Despatie, who's still recovering from the injury he suffered last month. A salute to volunteers I also got to meet two of our Olympic torch-bearers, Michael Bruni and Jamie Piekarz, both of them selected to participate in the relay in honour of their volunteer efforts. That was one of the other recurring messages throughout the day: volunteerism. Michael Bruni is the volunteer chair on the Board of Directors for Hockey Canada, and Jamie Piekarz pours a lot of her time and energy into causes that support women and children in third world countries. "The Olympics, to me, is about volunteerism," says Bruni. "From the people in small communities who run sports programs to the individuals who work behind the scenes. The spirit of the Olympics is just that - it's about the people who give of themselves." [caption id="attachment_11452" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Torch-bearers Jamie Piekarz and Michael Bruni (Photo: Doug O'Neill)"] [/caption] London-bound! The other fabulous news we're celebrating is that Canadian Living will be heading to the Olympics and updating you on a daily basis. I've been invited as a guest of Procter & Gamble, who are hugely supportive of the Canadian Olympic movement, and there's a special twist to this Olympic venture: I'll be spending time with moms of Canadian Olympians. I'll be capturing their stories of what it's like to raise an Olympian - and what it's like to watch your son or daughter compete on the world stage with top athletes from around the globe. And their moms? From what I've seen so far, they're as good as gold. Stay tuned for more.