Ontario amputee runner among first torchbearers named
VANCOUVER, Nov. 27 /CNW/ - With just over 100 days to go until the start of the Paralympic Winter Games, Canadians who dream of carrying the Paralympic Flame as part of the historic Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay - a 10-day inspirational journey starting on March 3, 2010 that celebrates the endless possibilities of the human spirit and the world's top winter Paralympians - are invited to apply today as torchbearers at www.YouGottaBeHere.ca.
Positions are available through the public torchbearer application program, operated by the Province of British Columbia, which is open to all Canadian residents who are aged 13 or older by March 3, 2010. The Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay is presented by Coca-Cola and RBC and supported by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia.
"As the provincial host of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, British Columbia wants to welcome all Canadians to apply today for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to proudly carry the Paralympic Flame," said Mary McNeil, Minister of State for the Olympics and ActNow BC. "We're looking for everyday people who embody the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration, and equality in their everyday life - much like the world's best winter Paralympians."
All applicants will need to describe why they want to be a torchbearer and how they embody the Paralympic values in their everyday life. Each torchbearer selected must also have transportation to and from their assigned torchbearer location. Applications will be accepted at www.YouGottaBeHere.ca until 11:59 pm (Pacific Time) on January 6, 2010.
An Ontario amputee runner who has beaten the odds - and three world records in just six months - will share his inspirational story with the world as one of the first torchbearers to carry the Paralympic Flame in the relay, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) also announced today.
Rick Ball, 44, of Orillia, ON, who runs using a curved prosthetic shaped like a bent ski, will help to start the relay on March 3, 2010 at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, ON. The Paralympic Flame - which has no ancestral home - will spring to life in a special Aboriginal-themed lighting ceremony with a uniquely Canadian flair on Parliament Hill. All 10 provinces and three territories will each name a torchbearer to participate in this Aboriginal-themed ceremony.
"To carry the Paralympic Flame is an incredible honour, especially when I think about how this will be the same light at the end of the relay that welcomes all of the world's great winter Paralympians to reach their dreams here in Canada in 2010," said Ball, a father of two who hopes to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
"When I took up competitive running two years ago I never dreamed I could be a part of something like this. I know it's often said that dreams can come true if you work hard, but these athletes...they're living proof of this," he added.
The Paralympic Flame will visit community celebration sites in Ottawa, ON (March 3), Quebec City (March 4) and Toronto (March 5), as well as Victoria and Esquimalt (March 6), Squamish (March 7), Whistler (March 8), Lytton and Hope (March 9), Maple Ridge (March 10), and Vancouver (March 10, 11 and 12) in British Columbia.
On March 11, 2010, the relay will turn into a 24-hour event through Vancouver's downtown core surrounding Robson Square as part of a day-long celebration of culture and sport counting down the final moments until the magical Opening Ceremony of the Games in front of tens of thousands at BC Place.
"This 24-hour celebration in downtown Vancouver is a great way to welcome the world's best Paralympians to our country for the first time and show the world that we're ready and excited to host the Games," said the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport) for the Government of Canada. "We can hardly wait to see our proud Canadian Paralympians triumph here at home in Whistler and in Vancouver."
"The schedule for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay has also been finalized, and we're proud to announce that Toronto is joining the list of 11 celebration communities previously announced as part of the 10-day relay," Minister of State Lunn continued. "Canadians in our country's largest city will have an opportunity to cheer on the flame on March 5, 2010."
During the relay, an estimated 600 torchbearers will carry the flame in the curved steel blue torch, designed and manufactured by Bombardier, while wearing their matching blue official keepsake torchbearer uniform, produced by the Hudson's Bay Company.
In addition to the public torchbearer contest, other worthy members of the public will be selected by VANOC, the Government of Canada, Coca-Cola, RBC, the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), and the Canadian Forces' Soldier On program.
Today, Coca-Cola also named Anne Bethune as its first Paralympic Torchbearer. Bethune is president of the Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports (VASS) and has been involved with the Disabled Skiers Association for more than 20 years.
"As a presenting partner of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay, Coca-Cola is delighted to announce Anne Bethune today as our first torchbearer," said Nicola Kettlitz, general manager, Coca-Cola Olympic Project Team. "Our goal is to bring the Paralympic values to life in communities across the country and to encourage Canadians to make a lifelong commitment to live these values, while living more active, sustainable lives. Just like Anne, we strive to live these values in our everyday lives and hope to inspire others to live them, as well."
For its first Paralympic Torchbearer, RBC selected Al Etmanski, an author and co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), which was instrumental in advocating for the new Registered Disability Savings Plan and assists families across Canada and globally in addressing the financial and social well-being of relatives with a disability.
Graham MacLachlan, regional president, RBC, British Columbia, said: "Al Etmanski has long demonstrated his commitment to helping people with disabilities and their families succeed through his work as an advocate and social entrepreneur. RBC is proud to select him as our first Paralympic Torchbearer on this historic relay."
"Each and every one of the 600 torchbearers on this relay will be individual sparks adding to the brightness of the Paralympic Flame as it travels towards Vancouver," said John Furlong, VANOC's Chief Executive Officer. "We encourage all Canadians and people from around the world to follow the flame's path and join us in a celebration of the remarkable achievements of Paralympic athletes and of all that is possible if you dare to dream."
In March 2010, approximately 1,000 athletes and officials from more than 40 countries will take part in five sports (alpine and cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, wheelchair curling and biathlon) at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler. The big international sporting event comes just 12 days after the region hosts the Olympic Winter Games.
Tickets for all Paralympic events, including such high demand sessions as the Opening Ceremony, alpine skiing and ice sledge hockey, can be purchased at www.vancouver2010.com, in person at Main Ticket Centres in Vancouver and Whistler or over the phone at 1.800.TICKETS or 604.629.7140 TDD/TTY, as part of Phase 3 of ticket sales for the Games.
For more information on the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay, visit www.vancouver2010.com/torchrelay.
VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Please visit www.vancouver2010.com for more information.
About the Government of Canada
The Government of Canada is proud to make 2010 a celebration for all Canadians. Through strategic investments in programming and funding, the spirit and excitement will be felt far and wide and leave lasting legacies for future generations. Through the Olympic Torch Relay and Paralympic Torch Relay, the Government of Canada is supporting citizen and community participation, as well as the inclusion of Aboriginal, ethnocultural and official language communities. For more information on the Government of Canada's contribution to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, visit www.Canada2010.gc.ca.
About the Government of British Columbia
The Government of British Columbia is the proud Host Province for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Paralympic Torch Relay represents a significant opportunity to create understanding and awareness about people with disabilities and the Paralympic Movement. Through the Paralympic Torch Relay, the Government of British Columbia is promoting healthy communities, healthy lifestyles and individual excellence. For more information on British Columbia's contribution to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, visit www.gov.bc.ca/themes/2010olympics.
About Coca-Cola and the Olympic and Paralympic Movements
The Coca-Cola Company has been associated with the Olympic Games since 1928 and is the longest continuous corporate supporter of the Olympic Movement. Through the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Coca-Cola encourages people to create their own path of "positivity" in everyday life by believing that anything is possible. The Coca-Cola Company is the exclusive non-alcoholic beverage provider to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. For more information about Coca-Cola Canada, please visit our website at www.cocacola.ca or our parent company's website at www.thecoca-colacompany.com.
As part of our commitment to help create a better Canada, RBC sponsors amateur sport, from grassroots programs in local communities to national sport associations that support the development of amateur athletes who compete at home and abroad. As a long standing supporter of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Teams, RBC continues its sponsorship through the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and is proud to help showcase Olympic and Paralympic sport as presenting partner of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays. RBC is also a premier sponsor of Hockey Canada, the Canadian Snowboard Team, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team, Athletics Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Visit www.rbc.com/sponsorship.
SOURCE VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES
For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: Jenée Elborne, VANOC Communications, (604) 403-1787, firstname.lastname@example.org; Media Relations, Canadian Heritage, (819) 994-9101, 1-866-569-6155; Greg Dickson, Media Relations, Province of BC, (604) 660-0859; Kirsten Mihailides, Manager Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola's Vancouver 2010 Olympic Project Team, (604) 828-3534, email@example.com; Matthew Gierasimczuk, Manager, Media Relations, RBC, (416) 974-2124