By KRISTEN THOMPSON, METRO VANCOUVER
Mayor Sam Sullivan barely squeezed through the doorways at City Hall yesterday while testing out the wheelchair attachment city engineers designed to hold the Paralympic Torch in Beijing.
Sullivan, who is heading to China today, is one of only a few non-Chinese participants in the Paralympic Torch relay on Sept. 5.
“I think (it’s) in recognition of Vancouver and Canada being the next host,” said Sullivan.
“I put a lot of effort into raising the profile of the Paralympic Games and it’s important … to be in China to say that people with disabilities can work and take their place in society.”
“I think that’s a message that really needs to be told.”
The flag holder, a triangular piece of metal embossed with the city’s crest and attached to the side of his chair, is the same one he used when he accepted the Olympic flag in Torino.
It’s been upgraded with an adjustable strap that holds the torch.
Rob Veer, a mechanical technologist who helped designed the appendage, said they only had two weeks to design the torch holder.
“We’ve just been given a few dimensions to work with,” he said, adding it’s not sure how wide the grip or how tall the flame will be.
“We’re trying to keep the mayor from going up in flames,” said Sullivan.
The mayor has had other attachments to his wheelchair, but none compare to this newest device.
“This is my favourite one,” he said, patting the flag and torch holder.
“This has been one of (my) most powerful and symbolic duties.”
One multi-purpose chair
- The mayor’s chair has been outfitted with a device that pitched a baseball at a Vancouver Canadians game.
- He has a shovel for groundbreaking ceremonies at completed social housing sites.
- Sam Sullivan also has a gadget that lets him through doors at City Hall.