While the politics of scheduling the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia got lots of uproar, for good reason considering Russia’s human rights record, what’s done is done and, knock wood, the games have gone pretty well. The local dogs, feminist protestors, and LGBT community would definitely disagree, but let’s say it could have gone much worse.

While the Olympics get lots of national spirit raised in competing countries, the big event AFTER the Olympics gets our universal, global spirit perked up with the Paralympic Games. March 7-16, this competition is also in Sochi, Russia and uses the same sports facilities and venues (on which these games have already had an amazing effect: When Russian building projects got underway to host the Olympic Games, for the first time, with encouragement and coaching from the Paralympics organizers, the country mandated construction that was barrier-free so athletes and audience of all abilities can have access to the venues. Fingers crossed it sets a trend in Russia.)

The Paralympics are high-level competitive sports events for athletes with disabilities. The winter sports included in these games that follow every Olympic competition since the 1960s, are: IPC Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing, IPC Ice Sledge Hockey, and Wheelchair Curling. None of these elite sports heroes are looking for sympathy, but explore the website, watch the TV coverage, and you will find yourself inspired and moved and, I suspect, feeling tremendously grateful. The human body, nurtured and honored, cannot be stopped.

From the Paralympic.org website FAQs regarding volunteering:

How can I volunteer for the Paralympic Games, World Championships and Regional Championships?

The best way to become a volunteer for the Paralympic Games, World Championships, and Regional Championships is to contact the Organizing Committees of the competitions. For the Paralympic Games, please go to www.sochi2014.com or www.rio2016.com. For World and Regional Championships, you can find a listing of events and contact information by accessing the calendar on this website.

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF.org) and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (mentorartists.org). Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at www.ChangeByDoing.com. As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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