Friday, February 26, 2010

Sam Sullivan, former Vancouver mayor, will serve as Canada's ambassador to Paralympics, which begins March 12

From The New York Times:

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Sam Sullivan, the former mayor of Vancouver, who twirled and waved the Olympic flag from his wheelchair at the 2006 Turin Games (pictured), will serve as Canada’s ambassador for the Paralympics.

“I know he will be a great inspiration to our athletes,” James Moore, the minister of Canadian heritage and official languages, said in a Feb. 25 news release announcing the appointment.

Sullivan broke his neck in a skiing accident at age 19, yet he later served 12 years as a Vancouver city councilor and one term as mayor, starting in 2005. I visited Sullivan in early January and wrote about the indelible image he gave the world in Turin, Italy.

Sullivan participated in the Vancouver Games torch relay, then faded into the background. His experience is suited to helping raise awareness for the Paralympics. He has founded six nonprofit organizations that have worked to provide those living with disabilities opportunities to hike and sail and make music. For this work, Sullivan received the Order of Canada honor.

The release described Sullivan’s ambassadorship like this: “Mr. Sullivan will bring a greater visibility to the Paralympic movement while showcasing Canadian leadership and athletic excellence.”

He will also participate in the Paralympic torch relay.

The Canadian government also announced an additional $12 million in financing for the Paralympic Games, for a total of $32 million. The Vancouver Paralympics, which will take place March 12-21, will bring together 1,350 athletes from 44 countries.