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    Thursday, January 8, 1998

    Mail bonding

    By BILL DAVIDSON -- Calgary Sun
      Here's your chance to help one of Canada's Olympic athletes and receive a thank-you postcard from Nagano, to boot.
     Cross-country skier Robin McKeever, a 24-year-old Calgarian currently living in Canmore, didn't know where to turn. His major equipment sponsors used to give him between $3,000 and $5,000 a year. That was cut this season.
     "I was looking for sponsorship earlier in the fall and sent out a couple of resumes," says McKeever, "mainly to people I knew in the oil industry, which was only two."
     One went to Renaissance Energy to a fellow skier named Robin Sandau, a member of the Rocky Mountain Racers Cross Country Ski Club.
     "I saw him a couple months later," says McKeever. "He said: 'I got this idea. I don't think our company can directly give you money, but I was talking to some of the guys at work and thought maybe we could sell some postcards.'
     "At first he was talking about 100 postcards, $20 each to his colleagues around the office," continues McKeever. "I went off to Europe, raced the World Cup, came back for Christmas, gave him a call and he said 'Robin, guess what? ... this has gone big.' "
     The 100 postcards had suddenly grown to 5,000 thanks to the ingenuity of Christina Djuric, a Calgarian who is also with the Rocky Mountain Racers.
     "I am actually the team physiotherapist," explains Djuric, "but I also handle all the team's publicity and sponsorship. That just started this year. I'm hoping to do my MBA at the U of C and wanted some marketing experience."
     Sandau offered the postcard idea to Djuric, asking what she could do with it. She contacted the Calgary office of Go Card and asked them to do a postcard with McKeever on it.
     "They were fabulous," relates Djuric. "They only do a minimum run of 5,000 cards, so all of a sudden we've got 5,000 instead of a few hundred.
     "Things just kind of set sail from there."
     McKeever will sign all the cards and is hoping that at least half of them will be stamped in Canada with Japanese postmarks from the Olympics. They'll then take the 5,000 cards to Japan.
     "I have a week before the first races there," says McKeever, who is hoping to be in the top 300 in a couple of the Olympic races.
     "I'll get some stamps from the Athletes' Village and stamp the other 2,500. My girlfriend's on the national team (Milaine Theriault). She's going to help me."