Countdown to Paralympic Games celebrated today 

Six years from now Whistler’s streets, recreation facilities, and ski runs will be host to some of the best athletes in the world – the Paralympians.

"I am very excited, said sit-skier Brad Lennea, recently back from world championships in Austria.

"I can’t wait.

"I can’t even imagine what it will like to compete here in Whistler, at home. It is going to be phenomenal.

"This will be the first time the Paralympics will have been held in Canada, either summer or winter, and Canada is going to do a really good job of showcasing their disabled athletes at the same level as their Olympic athletes."

Lennea is already seeing a legacy from the coming Paralympics.

"My sport, disabled skiing, is getting a lot of recognition lately," he said.

"People know about it, they know of it, whereas when I started skiing seven years ago nobody had ever heard of it. So our sport is becoming higher profile because of the whole 2010 event."

And he believes Whistler will do a great job hosting the event because it is already aware of the needs of people with disabilities.

The Paralympic Game will run 10 days after the conclusion of the Olympics and they will be held entirely in Whistler.

That’s a decision, which was highly praised by the International Olympic Committee and favoured by Canada’s own Paralympic Committee.

"I think generally there is a great deal of faith and confidence in both the community and the citizens that they will do a tremendous job organizing it and of course supporting it," said Patrick Jarvis, president of the CPC.

To mark the occasion today (Friday, March 12) the Whistler Olympic information office will celebrate with a community cake-cutting event at 3:30 p.m.

There is a lot of recognition, said Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly, that this is "really our community’s opportunity to stand alone and showcase ourselves."

O’Reilly points to the number of Paralympians who train here and said their drive helped the bid win the right to host the Games and the Paralympics.

"They have encouraged us saying that this is going to be fantastic and that Whistler is going to shine and set a standard by which all other future Paralympic Games will be measured," said O’Reilly.

But there will also be a silver lining for the resort from the Paralympics.

Upgrades to venue locations will make the resort even more accessible and it will be recognized world-wide as being a friendly vacation spot for those with disabilities.

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