<img style="float: right;" src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2004-12_10\/Fairley-Miki.jpg" hspace="4" vspace="4" \/>\r\n\r\nOnce again, the <a href="https:\/\/opedge.com\/2826">Paralympics<\/a> has shown the power of the human spirit. And in this issue, we celebrate that power with coverage of the Paralympic Games in Athens.\r\n\r\nFor instance, 12-year-old Jessica Long came from an orphanage in Russia to a loving adoptive family in the US and on to sweeping three gold medals at the Games. The inspiring story of Jessica and her family is told in " <a href="edge\/issues\/articles\/2004-12_08.asp">Delivered to America on the Wings of a Prayer<\/a>\r\n".\r\n<h2>Paralympics Changes Perceptions<\/h2>\r\n<a href="https:\/\/opedge.com\/2827">John\r\nRegister<\/a> went from being an Olympic hopeful to a Paralympic\r\nstar after a severe sports injury led to amputation. The sudden\r\ninjury and its aftermath may have caused John's dreams to take a\r\ndetour, but did not derail them. And now, as director of the\r\nNational Paralympic Academy, he helps open up to disabled young\r\npeople visions of the opportunities they have as possible future\r\nParalympians.\r\n\r\nIn Athens, Register noted how much the high profile of the\r\nParalympics was making positive changes in public perception of\r\npersons with disabilities. All over the world, the achievements of\r\nthese elite athletes help open doors for persons of all ages and\r\ntypes of disabilities--including the doors of their own minds as to\r\nwhat is possible.\r\n\r\nYou'll enjoy <a href="edge\/issues\/articles\/2004-12_05.asp">Register's article<\/a> about the experiences of\r\nyoung visiting athletes and coaches in Athens.\r\n<h2>Games Grow Through Years<\/h2>\r\nThe Paralympic Games are the second largest sporting event in\r\nthe world, next only to the Olympics. The Games are run under the\r\nauspices of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The\r\n"father" of the Paralympics was Sir Ludwig Guttman, who saw the\r\nvalue of competitive sports while working with ex-servicemen at the\r\nStoke Mandeville Hospital in England after World War II. Guttman\r\nstaged the 1948 International Wheelchair Games to coincide with the\r\n1948 London Olympic Games.\r\n\r\nThe event grew gradually, encompassing other sports and\r\ndisability categories. In 1960 the Rome games included 400 athletes\r\nfrom 23 countries; in 2000 the number had burgeoned at the Sydney\r\nParalympics to 3,843 athletes from 123 countries. And this year saw\r\nthat number grow again: this time to 3,969 athletes from 136\r\nnations.\r\n\r\nIn a year that has seen plenty of turmoil on several fronts for\r\nthe O&P profession, prosthetists and orthotists can reflect on\r\nthe achievements of the Paralympians and realize O&P has played\r\na role in many of their triumphs. Behind the athletes are coaches,\r\nfamilies, friends, their healthcare teams--and the spirit that\r\nburns within them. The 2008 Summer Paralympics will be in Beijing,\r\nChina.\r\n<h2>On to Torino!<\/h2>\r\nIn 2006, the Winter Games in Torino, Italy, will open up a whole\r\nnew panorama of achievement in snow and ice sports. And many\r\nParalympians and fans can hardly wait!