I had the honor of serving as a volunteer for Team USA in the 2012 Summer Paralympics. The long hours I worked over the week leading up to the Opening Ceremonies were tiring, but the experience touched my heart in a way that I still can’t fully describe. So, I’ll save that story for another post.

I felt the best way to begin was to share my memories of the Opening Ceremonies.

My excitement for the games was indescribable. Never had I thought that I would be at any Olympic or Paralympic event. Ever. And yet here I was, ticket in hand, entering the Opening Ceremonies in London.

I must admit, the entire production was an emotional roller coaster for me; between hearing Stephen Hawking open the ceremonies, seeing the thousands of people surrounding me cheer for their countries and staring down onto the familiar faces of the athletes I had met during my time volunteering.

According to polls, the London Paralympic Games had record breaking crowds, more countries participating than ever before and significantly impacted British society as a whole. “Eight out of ten (81%) British adults thought the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way people with an impairment are viewed by the public.” –IPC

I realized I was taking part in a huge piece of history;

the greatest Paralympic Games ever.



Entering the Olympic Park




“Celebrating the transformational possibilities of ideas, science and human endeavor”




“It matters if you just don’t give up.”

Stephen Hawking




The Ceremony Begins…





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Athletes from around the world enter the Olympic Stadium



A packed stadium filled with National pride



The Opening Ceremony show begins







 The cauldron is lit by Margaret Maughan, Britain’s first ever gold medallist at the Paralympic Games.



And to close, an incredible fireworks display.



“The Paralympic Games is about transforming our perception of the world. We are all different, there is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spirit. What is important is that we have the ability to create. This creativity can take many forms, from physical achievement to theoretical physics. However difficult life may seem there is always something you can do, and succeed at.” -Stephen Hawking

For more information on the Paralympics, visit www.Paralympic.org

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Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.