The First Lady and patron of the Danhiko annual paralympic games Dr Grace Mugabe has pledged to continue ensuring that the games take place whenever they are due as long as she is patron of the games.

The official opening of the 29th edition of the Danhiko annual paralympic games coincided with the 20th anniversary of assuming the patronage of the games.

Addressing participants, dignitaries and guests at the opening ceremony of the Danhiko annual paralympic games, the First Lady said the road has not been long and arduous with the major drawback being the debilitating sanctions imposed on the country for those 20 years.

The event took place amid celebration and jubilation with Dr Mugabe vowing to continue supporting the games whenever they are due for as long as she is their patron.

The First Lady arrived at the premises to a warm welcome with athletes and well wishers lined up to receive her as has become tradition on this day. 

The number of athletes and well wishers who annually sponsor the games has gone up with new sponsors coming up every year.

From just  800 athletes and 41 clubs in 1997 when Dr Mugabe became patron, the Danhiko annual paralympic games were held in Harare with over 22 400 athletes and 113 clubs.

Traditional sponsors like Schweppes, NetOne, CBZ, RBZ and individual sponsors like Mr McDonald Chapfika and former RBZ governor Dr Gideon Gono have continued to support the games which have grown from being a national event to regional level attracting participants from Botswana and Zambia.

In her address at the opening of the 2017 games, Dr Mugabe paid tribute to the board of trustees which has been entrusted with the stewardship of the institution and is responsible for sourcing resources to support Danhiko Project’s  activities.

Besides contributing to the revamping of infrastructure, the First Lady also roped in friends and partners who brought great improvements in the institution which also offers vocational training to students.

She underscored the role of by sport in uplifting the lives of people with disabilities saying the games have become a launchpad for the international careers for some of the athletes.

Citing the example of Witness Magagula who is a member of the Danhiko games and was appointed into the African Union Sports Council Region 5 for People with Disabilities for the next four years.

Government ministers Makhosini Hlongwane, Mirriam Chikukwa, Samuel Undenge, Mrs Abigail Damasane, Dr Gideon Gono and captains of industry from Schweppes and PPC Cement, chiefs Musarurwa, Chinamora, Rusike, Chikwaka, acting town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube as well as Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Toshiyuki Iwado were among the many dignitaries and athletes who were at the 2017 edition of the Danhiko annual paralympic games.

Kadoma based businessman Jimaya Muduvuri donated a Toyota Vitz to the institution while others donated in cash and kind.

PPC paid for the extension and refurbishment of the swimming pool area which is used as the arena during opening ceremonies.

After the opening ceremony, the First Lady spent time mixing and mingling with guests at the playgrounds where swimming, basketball, wheelchair tennis and other activities were being held.

Then it was time for feasting and dancing with Amai taking to the dance floor with different groups and those with disabilities.

Her children from the Grace Mugabe Children’s Home were also part of the crowd at the dining hall.