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NFL kicks off Super Bowl lead-up with Fans First Rally for volunteers

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PHOENIX—The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots aren’t the only ones preparing for football’s biggest game. An event as large as the Super Bowl requires a coordinated effort from thousands of volunteers.

Training kicked off Tuesday night at the NFL’s Fans First! Rally at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Katrina Elitz, who works through AZ Xtreme Booster Club, has volunteered in the past to help raise money for her son’s soccer fees and her daughter’s dancing expenses. This is her first involvement in Super Bowl festivities, though.

“It’s just amazing because normally we just go and work and then we go home,” she said. “Everybody else—the fans—get to participate in the NFL Experience so it’s nice for us to be able to get our own little experience on the side.”

The NFL brought in some outside help from an organization known around the world for its customer service.

“We’ve partnered with the Disney Institute to really deliver and elevate our game in terms of training (the volunteers),” NFL senior vice president of events Peter O’Reilly said. “They’re going to be working in all different capacities around the Super Bowl and this is really the kickoff of their experience with the Super Bowl at this rally.”

Former Arizona Cardinal and radio host Ron Wolfley emceed the event, which included appearances from NFL and Super Bowl host committee officials and Cindy McCain.

The wife of Arizona Sen. John McCain has worked with the NFL to address the issue of human trafficking at the Super Bowl but she also enjoys football as a fan.

“Politics is certainly fun but for me, it’s very rewarding to be a part of this in any small way,” she said. “This town is alive with things to do. I’m going to nose around like everyone else, maybe grab one or two of my kids and do it and we’ll have a great time.”