I love the Paralympics! For me, this is the real Olympics - amateur athletes, ordinary people who compete because their talents and drive compels them to. Inevitably, some of the problems I have with the Olympics have crept into the Paralympic Games, but to much lesser and more tolerable degree.
Shortly after we moved to Canada, I watched much of the Torino Olympics, and first learned that "Olympics" in Canada means the winter Games. It was also my first live exposure to a country that understands the Paralympics as great sport, not a giant pity party. I had always heard from athletes that this was the case in Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, and other countries, but seeing it for myself was very exciting. (Another thing I discovered during those games: Newfoundland! It was the advertising blitz during Torino that eventually led to our trip to The Rock in 2008.)
At the 2006 closing ceremonies, I was awed to see Sam Sullivan, then mayor of Vancouver, wave the Maple Leaf. I had interviewed Sam a few times when he was forging new ground for people with disabilities with assisted sailing, hiking, gardening and music-making. I was proud to live in a country where he could be mayor of a major city, and no one cared about his disability one way or another. I still am.
CBC's Ian Hanomansing interviewed Sullivan, now Ambassador to the 2010 Paralympics, about the Games. It's very good: watch it here.
I've blogged a lot about the Paralympics, what they mean to me, why I love them, why I want everyone to see them, so I'll try not to repeat the whole spiel here, and just let Sam talk.