Olympics volunteer has impressive pin collection

"It's a great way to meet people from around the world and make friends." - Linda Johnson

She has many memories of past Olympics with physical reminders of those experiences.

Linda Johnson is not an Olympic athlete but she is a veteran of three Olympic Games.

Pins, clothes, and friendships unite her experiences in Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and Japan.

"It's a great way to meet people from around the world and make friends," she said.

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Linda Johnson is the Development Director for Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries based in Gatlinburg.

She worked hospitality for the Summer Games in Atlanta.

That's where she started her pin collection which she continued to build as she volunteered at more Games including the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"It's a beautiful place a lot like it is here at Ober. I loved watching people ski, do the luge, those type of events were wonderful. And then I went to Japan in Nagano aI went to the Nagono Olympics and that was just a whole great cultural experience. I lived with a family outside of Nagano and I just got to live the Japanese life for about a month. It was awesome," she said.

Her Olympics wardrobe is also pretty awesome.

"I wear my USA sweater so people will say oh you are from the United States then I ask them questions, where are you from, it starts a dialogue. And so you always wear something that represents the country you are from so that you can easily meet people," she said. "I usually wear in the Winter Games I have a red cowboy that I wear. I stick Olympic pins on it."

Seeing the pins prompts conversations about swapping the pins and that leads to contacts and friendships.

"I would wear this around and people would come up and say I have a pin from my country could I have a pin from your country and we would trade pins and then at the end of the Games I would end up with pins from all over the world and I have given away my pins from the United States," she said.

Her collections includes coveted countdown-to-the Olympics pins and a dog pin is from Germany.

She has More than Gold pins that are produced by a group of Christian denominations.

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She did not go to Sydney but she swapped a pin for one from those Games.

Linda is not going to South Korea this year. Instead she is sponsoring a young woman from South Carolina so she can attend.

"In this culture, the Olympics culture, people will go to the Games and if they know you collect pins they will bring back pins for you . So my friends who are going to Korea I have already put in a request for the pins I would like to see," she said.

She would like to see another Olympics as a volunteer.

"It's a great way to represent your country, to represent your home town, and to just tell people in the world that you do care about them and that America is a great place to live," she said.