Paralympic president encouraged by Chilean reception of Parapan Am athletes
At times here in Santiago, Chile, the roars and cheers for the athletes have been so loud you can feel the noise rattle through your body.
Throughout the first few days of competition at the Parapan Am Games there have been spellbinding scenes unfolding inside the venues.
Thousands of Chilean fans young and old, draped in flags, waving flags and holding signs — some even with faces painted — have been cheering and chanting and making not only the hometown Para athletes feel like heroes, but all competitors have received rapturous applause.
After the matches families and friends and perfect strangers have lined up around the wheelchair basketball courts, tennis courts and basically anywhere they can get a moment with the athletes, sneaking in photos and selfies, shaking hands and sometimes even hugging the athletes.
For many in the Chilean capital this is their first experience watching Para sport. They might not know the names of the competitors or the rules of every sport, but what's been clear throughout the first few days of the Games is that the spectators attending have been moved.
WATCH: IPC's Andrew Parsons on spirit of Parapan Am Games:
"These athletes have overcome a lot in their lives. The Parapan Am Games are very important to this part of the world," said Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee. "It gives another platform for the Paralympic movement in this region."
Parsons knows how much an experience like this can change the hearts and minds of a nation and how people think and feel about people living with a disability.
"It's more than gold, silver and bronze. When someone watches the Paralympics for the first time, there's this reaction of surprise. And then after a few