The Paralympic Games opened Wednesday with 4,350 athletes demonstrating first-hand their creed: "The heart knows no limits; everybody has a heart."
Wheelchair daredevil Aaron Wheelz showed the spirit in the opening act.
As a countdown from 10 reached its end, Wheelz raced down a giant ramp and somersaulted in the air through a giant 0 on the stadium floor. That finished the countdown and shattered more stereotypes about what athletes with disabilities can do.
The president of the International Paralympic Committee, Philip Craven, made a similar point with his speech. Craven, who lost the use of his legs in a rock-climbing fall at the age of 16, reminded Brazilians they have their own to problems overcome.
Craven suggested Brazilians follow the lead of Paralympians.
"In a country which has faced major challenges of late, Paralympians will switch your focus from perceived limitations — to a world full of possibility and endless opportunity," Craven said. "They will surprise you, inspire and excite you, but most of all they will change you."
David Eng made sure Canada's entrance was a memorable one.
The Canadian flag-bearer, a two-time gold medallist in wheelchair basketball, knelt on one knee when he entered Maracana Stadium and gave a fierce wave of the Maple Leaf.
"This is a moment I will cherish forever," Eng said. "I'm feeling so blessed. It was an even greater feeling to have my wheelchair basketball teammates enter the stadium right behind me and to share this precious moment with them. I love them so much."