Paralympics – Opening Ceremony 2

It’s already day 1 of the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler, BC, but last night’s Opening Ceremony happened after I’d posted, so here’s a quick run down.

The Ceremony was sold out; 60,000 people watched it live at BC Place, the same covered stadium where the 2010 Olympics’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies were held.

From the moment that I walked in the room to see that NBC was covering it time-delayed on Saturday morning (with no further coverage of any of the events, for days — SO disappointing), then I could tell that there was real Heart behind the Paralympic ceremony, unlike the Olympics ones, in my opinion.

The energy just jumped through the screen. The stadium was filled with children doing all the intricate people patterns and accompanying handicapped visitors and performers. It was electric.

The teams came in with far fewer in wheelchairs than I had expected. Some people used their prosthetics; others used crutches, and the visually impaired buddied with sighted athletes. Even usually large contingent countries had amazingly different numbers of athletes. Australia only sent 11. China had maybe 25 or so. Russia, maybe about the same. But, Canada and the United States mounted huge teams and had lots of wheelchair athletes.

The USA team was the first one who had enough confidence and independence to break ranks and go over and hug and shake hands with the thousands of children lining the parade routs inside the stadium and whom had done a phenomenal job raising spirits there. And, Canada, which followed the USA, as the host nation comes in last, also greeted the children similarly.

It was SO good to finally see some of this shown! We need to make sure that we tell our national broadcasters that we want to see more.

From the blind man who sang “O Canada!” so beautifully, to the parents of handicapped pioneer athlete Terri Fox, who were asked to bring the Paralympic Torch into the arena and pass it to the younger generation, in his memory, it was a tear-jerker.

A young 16 year old boy, who’d lost a leg shortly after birth plans to become a Paralympian and already mixes it up in sports … just what we want to see for the future … was chosen to light the Paralympic cauldron, after receiving the flame from one of the great female Paralympian skiers.

Today, Day 1 of the Games, Whistler is fogged in, again, causing problems, as most of the events are on these mountains. Only hockey is in Vancouver. But, if you are there in the next 10 days, please support the athletes, and spread the word about your experience when you get home. See more at Paralympic Online Coverage

They are real heroes!

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