Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fill the seats at the Paralympics

Yesterday marked the opening of the Paralympic Games in Rio. The 11 days of competition between world-class athletes are notoriously under-reported in mainstream media, especially given the hype of the Rio Olympics last month. And yet the athletes' personal stories of sacrifice and struggle to reach their elite competitive status are just as compelling as their able-bodied counterparts. More compelling, I would argue, because these individuals do it all with a significant disability.

So I was disheartened to hear that ticket sales to watch the Paralympic events in person were slow - only 12% had been sold as of mid-August. That would mean empty stands and sparse crowds to cheer on the efforts of these incredible athletes.

Greg Nugent decided to do something. A former marketing director for the 2012 London Olympics, he created the hashtag #FillTheSeats and set up an account to receive donations through Generosity on IndieGoGo. Nugent plans to use the money to buy tickets for Brazilians, especially children, who could not afford to attend otherwise.

As of this writing, the campaign has raised over $200,000 of their $300,000 goal. Because of Nugent's decision to do something right, the athletes will receive the enthusiastic support they deserve, and thousands of people will see events which may inspire them to achieve their own goals. Because one person decided to act, everyone wins.

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