2004 Paralympics - Athens
Access to the Parthenon!
Geia sas from Komotini, Greece:
I am now in northern Greece in my father's town of Komotini. I can still feel the spirit of the Paralympic Games as I travel. This Friday there will be an event sponsored by the Organization Perpato and it will celebrate the second year anniversary and it will honor some of the Greek athletes that participated in the games. I can tell you that the spirit has indeed been carried throughout the land, outside of Athens. Additionally, I was delighted to return to find some of the accessible projects completed.
Before I left Athens, I had to visit the Acropolis. This has been in my mind for the last six years and I can now tell you that it has become a reality. Thanks to my friends from the USA Swim team, I had the right incentive to get to the top. I was their official tour guide.
The moment I stepped out of the taxi and saw the Parthenon, I knew that this would be a special day to remember. Athens had just installed a wheelchair lift this August and everyone at the games was talking about it. However, there was a little work to get to the lift. I then realized that this lift was adjacent to the hill and it looked a bit intimidating.
All I could think of was that I needed to get my friends to the top and get next to the Parthenon. No matter what could happen on this lift, I just thought that I was in God's hands and the hands of the lift operator named Soula.
As we slowly went up on the lift, I asked Soula if she gained any satisfaction in her job. She told me that her job was one of the most satisfying things in her life as she realized the value that she provides in taking people to the top each time. She told me that she was getting goose bumps just talking about her role in other people's lives.
Once I was out of the cage, I took my first push onto the sacred rocks of the Acropolis and set my eyes on the Parthenon. This was a great feeling as I felt free to be among so many others on this great height. The sun and the slight wind felt great. The city view was amazing and all I could think was what took Greece this long and does the country understand this beautiful gift given to all individuals with disabilities. My fellow friends could only marvel at the fact that we were amongst these great ancient monuments.
My spirit was further heightened at the sight of so many individuals in wheelchairs and the many athletes from the Paralympic games. I was proud of having Athens provide this special moment to them. This was indeed my Greece again and all of you stood next to me at the top.
I have enclosed are a few pictures: 1.Inside the lift cage, 2. USA Coach Pam Redding next to the cage, 3. Picture next to the Parthenon, 4.USA Athletes next to the Parthenon
I return next week with more news.
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