After the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team returned from the London summer games, they were invited to a ceremony at the White House to honor their accomplishments. The athletes were honored not only for the 200+ medals they brought home, but for their dedication and hard work that began long before the games.
The First Lady’s message was clear: the athletes are inspirations. “I want you to know how inspired we are by all of you -- your passion, your dedication, your courage. This summer, people across the country…watched you compete and thought to themselves, you know what, if they can set a goal and work hard to reach it, maybe I can too, and maybe I can go a little farther and do a little better than people think I can. They saw all of you out there giving 100 percent, overcoming all kinds of obstacles, representing our country with such determination and pride.”
Mrs. Obama was echoed by the President who said, “As Olympians and Paralympians, you guys all find the strength to keep pushing on good days and bad days -- because you believe that no matter where we come from, or no matter what hand we’ve been dealt in life, with enough effort, there is no limit to how far we can go.”
Surrounded by more than 400 members of Team USA on the South Lawn of the White House, the U.S. flag-bearers presented the Obamas with the flags that were carried during the opening ceremonies. The U.S. Paralympics’ flag-bearer was swimmer Brad Snyder. Brad, who was chosen as flag-bearer by his fellow Paralympians, is a Navy veteran who was blinded during an attack in Afghanistan in 2011. At the London games he won two gold medals. Click here to see a video of the event and learn more about Brad Snyder.
After a few formal photographs, the President, First Lady and the Vice President shook hands and took pictures with the athletes while the Marine band played the Olympic fanfare.
Congratulations to all of the athletes from this year’s games and particularly the Paralympians. As ambassadors for the disability community, you represented the U.S. and made the community proud.