Remarks at a White House Ceremony Upon Accepting Honorary Chairmanship of the VIIth Paralympic Games

April 22, 1982

Mr. Conn. Mr. President, I want you to note that we brought this discus with us. It was used by the U.S. Paralympic team during the first competition of the U.S. team in Rome in 1960. We would be very honored, sir, on the occasion of this kickoff, if you would sign it for us at your leisure, and we would like to have it permanently ensconced in the National Wheelchair Athletic Hall of Fame.

The President. I would be very proud to sign that. I'll have to wait until I get over to my desk there. I didn't bring a pen with me.

Mr. Conn. All right, sir.

The President. Here is a pen. Let me see if it will write.

Mr. Conn. Thank you very much, sir. We're most honored. Now Chairman of the Board Wiley has some remarks.

Mr. Wiley. Mr. President, on behalf of the National Wheelchair Athletic Association and the Paralympic Board of Directors we are honored and pleased that you have accepted the honorary chairmanship of the VIIth Paralympic Games to be held at the University of Illinois in 1984. These games are traditionally held in the same host country as our able-bodied games are. They have been since 1960. Your endorsement and support lends meaning and purpose and certainly encourages the thousands of men and women that compete in wheelchair sports. These men and women are truly athletes in the true sense of the word, and for this I'm honored and privileged to present to you this scroll in your role as honorary chairman of the VIIth Paralympic Games.

The President. Well, I am greatly honored. I'm honored to be the honorary national chairman of those VIIth Paralympic Games, and I'm honored to be an honorary member of the National Wheelchair Athletic Association.

I know something about and have heard about the prowess of our basketball players here in the first two of the Paralympics, and I'm very pleased that they finally are going to be held here. I did not understand at the time that they were always held in the same country as the other Olympics. But they're also now going to be held in my home State, Illinois -- the University of Illinois. I'm very pleased.

I think that you should be very proud -- all of you -- and you must be, for what the National Wheelchair Athletic Association and what the Paralympics have done and achieved so much and done it without relying on government support or even suggesting such a thing. And I know how many of those who've performed in these athletic contests have gone on from this to challenging jobs.

And, just as I say, I'm very proud and pleased. I wish you all well in the games to come here.

Mr. Conn. Thank you very much, sir.

Mr. Wiley. Thank you very much, sir.

Note: The President spoke at 4:21 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. Also participating in the ceremony were George Conn, Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Department of Education, and B. Dale Wiley, chairman of the National Wheelchair Athletic Association.