​Rio, The View from 10,000 Feet Above

Posted by Candace Cable in Life After Paralysis on October 06, 2016

A few weeks ago, I returned from the vibrant and exploding with life city of Rio de Janeiro, where for twelve days the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games were held. These were the first Paralympic Games held in South America. I was there a total of sixteen days and I easily would have stayed longer if I could have, Rio and her people were that seductive and inviting. If you missed it live, the latest edition of Adapting Life is full of colorful images and information of the happening Rio Games and it’s on you tube.

This was my thirteenth Paralympic Games. I attended nine, as an athlete, one as an Athlete Services Coordinator for the USOC, and two as a reporter of the Games and this one as part of the LA2024 bid team. Since February of this year, I have been serving as one of the Vice Chairs for the LA2024 board and bid to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Los Angeles, California in the year 2024. September of 2017 the IOC (International Olympic Committee) will chose between, Rome, Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles who will have the honor of hosting the 2024 Paralympic and Olympic Games. There is much to do between now and then.

So one to-do-item was attending both Games. One team went to the Olympic Games and one to the Paralympic Games. I attended the 2016 Paralympic Games as a representative of the LA2024 bid committee team, with hopes of building relationships with all people involved with the Paralympic Games and learning how a Games is planned and executed by taking part in the 2016 IPC (International Paralympic Committee) Academy Campus. This education (what I dubbed “classes”) included the Observers Program, The Games Experience and the two-day Inclusion Summit. My part of the “classes” was attending, some of the Observers Programs and all of the two-day Inclusion Summit.

The people attending the IPC Academy Campus programs were from areas of the International Paralympic Sporting Movements, including organizing committees of upcoming Paralympic Games in Korea, Japan and China as well as the candidate cities of Rome, Paris, Budapest and us, LA! The Academy’s goal is to share the most up to the date knowledge gathered from previous and the current Games to guide and support future Paralympic Games success.

These programs gave the participants the opportunity to see the Paralympic Games happening in real time and understand the environment. The programs often has classroom time and experiential time to walk the park and venues, so that we could see what was called back-of-the-house and how operations were working or not working. We also got a chance to hear from specialists about best practices and opportunities that are unique to the Paralympic Games. The list of programs included over 75 different tracks with all three programs. There was people management, ticketing, operations (many different kinds of operations) athlete experience and village, branding, medical, classification, spectator experience, marketing, transportation, you get the picture, it was everything needed to be know to execute a massive multi-sport event.

I can’t speak about the Games Experience program because I didn’t take part in any of that area. But I can tell you the 2-day Inclusion Summit was awesome. The aim of the summit was to discuss policy related aspects of inclusion and accessibility with government ministers, Paralympic organizing committees for future Games, commercial organizations involved in sport, national Paralympic and Olympic committees, candidate cities and senior officials. Our own Judy Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights for the US State Department spoke to us. I even got to meet one of my inclusion hero’s Neil Miliken from @axschat.

This was a role like no other for me. My days were tightly scheduled, I had a full time driver making sure I was where I needed to be and when, so I could attend a reception or sport event or observers class, meet an IOC member or IPC member, the head of a Federation or National Paralympic Committee. I hardly stopped moving long enough to sleep a few hours and eat (Alex, my driver, made sure I had snacks and water in the car at all times). But when we did eat, we ate exquisitely well. Our biggest meals were after dark and went into the early morning hours, but oh, they were so deliciously fun.

To be a part of such a dedicated team, my LA2024 teammates, this thirteenth Paralympic Games was my luckiest one, ever. After experiencing the Games from this 10,000 foot view I know now, for sure, if we have the honor and privilege to host the Games in 2024 we will create the Games that will impact the world in such a way as to never leave anyone behind.

Blessings to All, In Joy


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