SEE ALSO: Lending Their Support,
                              46 Different Teams, all on the Same Side and
                              More photos
STORY: David Stringer
PHOTOGRAPHY: Cheri SmithMarilyn IndahlEleanor JonesSarah Merion

Wade in the Water

The Opening Ceremomies to the XV World Transplant Games in London, Ontario, provided a powerful celebration of life.

As Master of Ceremonies Bill Brady pointed out, we were celebrating the second chance at life, the miracle of carrying two lives in one body, and the generosity of donor families who allowed these both to happen.

 The John Labatt Centre, which doubles as an ice hockey arena, came alive.
Organizers of the 2005 World Games chose to express this celebration through energetic and artistic music and dance from around the world, ranged from the McAuley Boys' powerful "Staying Alive" to the elegant Traditional and Modern Chinese Dance as choreographed by Ginger Richardson.

Da Blooze Brothers had people dancing in the aisles, and Denise Pelley's version of the spiritual "Wade in the Water" within a setting of balletic tae kwon do athletes was a complex summary of the meaning of the ceremony. It was a world event, and it was a celebration of the joy of participation and renewal. Choreographer Cheryl Lea was applauded at the conclusion of the entertainment, and they richly deserved the tribute.

Powerful as the entertainment was, the real heart of the Opening Ceremonies was the entrance of the athletes, nation by nation, and the warmth that flowed between the athletes and their friends and families - and their donor families - in the stands. As Bill Brady stated, their presence, like the athletic competitions to come, celebrated energy, spirit, talent, and a love of life.

The procession was led in by bagpipes and drums, followed by a uniformed member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Each national delegation was headed by a young rhythmic gymnist, and they featured colorful national uniforms, flags, and hats.

 The high spirits could hardly be contained.
A group of athletes, possibly the French, started a wave before half of the contestants were seated. Two Greeks circled the seating area with a banner representing the Greek flag. Chants broke out, including EEE-TAL-YA! and YUU-SAH (USA). Spain was honored for having the highest percentage of donors. Thailand was announced to be the site of the 2007 World Games. All stood for the athletes from Canada.

Though the competition was due to begin in earnest the following day, it did not appear that anyone at the Opening Ceremonies would be getting a lot of sleep. There was too much celebration taking place in London.

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Last updated on: Friday, 05-Feb-2010 10:11:56 EST