The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport), and the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Democratic Reform), today announced that Sam Sullivan will be Canada's Paralympic Ambassador and also announced additional funding for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
"On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I am pleased to announce Sam Sullivan as Canada's Paralympic Ambassador. I know he will be a great inspiration to our athletes," said Minister Moore. "I am also pleased to announce that our Government is providing an additional $12 million in funding to deliver and broadcast the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games."
"Canadians have fully embraced the spirit of the Games, and hosting the 10th edition of the Paralympic Winter Games is a proud moment for our country," said Minister of State Lunn. "We are excited to celebrate our Paralympians and their amazing achievements."
"In a few short weeks, the Paralympic Winter Games will take place on Canadian soil for the first time in history," said Minister of State Fletcher. "This is our opportunity to showcase the Paralympic movement to the world and raise the profile of Canada's elite Paralympic athletes."
As Canada's Paralympic Ambassador, Mr. Sullivan will bring a greater visibility to the Paralympic movement while showcasing Canadian leadership and athletic excellence.
"I am thrilled to be Canada's Paralympic Ambassador and I look forward to encouraging people throughout Canada to cheer on our athletes as they go for gold," said Mr. Sullivan.
Mr. Sullivan became a quadriplegic at the age of 19 as a result of a skiing accident. He served as councillor for 12 years on Vancouver City Council before being elected mayor in 2005. He was an important part of bringing the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to Vancouver and took part in the closing ceremony of the Turin 2006 Winter Games, where he received the Olympic flag as representative of the host city. Mr. Sullivan is the founder of six non-profit organizations that have improved the lives of thousands of North Americans with disabilities, and has received numerous awards, including Canada's top honour, the Order of Canada.
Today's funding announcement brings the Government of Canada's total investment in the planning and staging of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games to $32 million. Of the additional $12 million in funding, $10 million will support the delivery of the Games and $2 million will support the television broadcast of the Games.
From March 12 to 21, Whistler and Vancouver will host 1350 athletes and officials from 44 countries at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
The Paralympic Games date back to 1948, when the International Wheelchair Games were staged to coincide with the 1948 London Olympic Games. The event gradually grew to encompass other sports and other disability groups, and now the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games are the ultimate international competitions for world-class athletes with disabilities, with an emphasis on the participants' athletic achievements rather than their disability.