Leading world class athletes out onto a stage in front of 60,000 screaming spectators seems like something out of a dream. Something so unimaginable that I sometimes have troubles believing that I actually did it. This was my experience as a 2010 Paralympic Games placard bearer for the Opening Ceremonies.
This dream slowly became a reality through the long process of applying for the position, getting the position, going to fitting for the costumes and three full days of rehearsal before the big show. Although missing school for long and boring rehearsals was disconcerting (being the worrier that I am), this experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it filled all my expectations and so much more. I was allotted the position of the placard bearer for the Islamic Republic of Iran. I did not know what to expect and to be honest I was a little nervous about the language barrier that would be between us when I finally got to meet the athletes. When the time finally came for the athletes to arrive at the stadium I was pleasantly surprised by their good english. I was able to talk with them for a good hour or so before it was time to head out onto the stage. It was really amazing and a neat experience to be able to talk to athletes from the other side of the planet. It was also really nice to see that they were just as excited about being here in Vancouver as I was about my placard bearer responsibilities. Before we were prompted to march out onto stage, one of the athletes ‘thanked’ me and presented me with a little keepsake, a Team Iran Paralympic pin. Although this would be just a little piece of metal to most, I found it to be an extremely gracious gesture and is something I will keep forever.
This experience was so much more than being able to brag to my friends about it or getting the opportunity to have my family from all across the country/world see me on TV. It was having the opportunity to be surrounded by world class athletes and amazing volunteers, but most of all it was getting to be a part of something special and something Vancouver, Canada and the rest of the world will surely remember for a long time.