Don’t put your Olympic red gloves away yet: MLA

Stephanie Cadieux rallies fellow MLAs to raise excitement for the Paralympic Games.

The Winter Games may be over, but B.C. residents should not extinguish their Olympic fever just yet, says Surrey-Panorama MLA Stephanie Cadieux.

Instead, Cadieux is encouraging people to support Paralympic athletes when the 2010 Paralympic Games kick off today (Friday).

“The Games are here again. Let’s remember to cheer on our Paralympian heroes as they represent our province and our country,” Cadieux said in a statement earlier this week.

To fuel the fire, Cadieux, who has been in a wheelchair since suffering a spinal-cord injury at age 18, challenged her fellow MLAs to a wheelchair race in the B.C. legislature Wednesday.

“It was a nice way to raise awareness about disabilities and accessibility – that kind of thing,” she said from Victoria.

“The enthusiasm was great. It was a lot of fun.”

Cadieux, a Peninsula resident, has no official involvement in the Games, but said she plans to attend a few events as a fan.

There’s a distinct Peninsula presence at the Paralympic Games, too.

South Surrey’s Mary Benson, who was featured in last Friday’s Peace Arch News, will compete in para-Nordic (cross-country) skiing.

And Tuesday afternoon in Hope, wheelchair tennis star and White Rock native Sarah Hunter took part in the torch relay as it made its way to Vancouver.

Hunter is a two-time Paralympian, having competed in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens and the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Though many of the downtown Olympic pavilions closed after the Winter Games ended Feb. 28, a few remain open – including Canada’s Northern House, the Robson Square celebration site and the Royal Canadian Mint pavilion, where medals are on display.

The Paralympic Games end March 21.