International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven led the celebrations in Berlin as the organisation marked its 25-year anniversary at a special Gala dinner that saw a number of world leaders from politics and sport pay tribute to the growth of the Movement.
Addressing more than 350 guests at the Scandic Hotel in the German capital, Briton Sir Philip highlighted the work of member organisations and volunteers in contributing to the growth of the IPC since its foundation in Düsseldorf in September 1989.
"Tonight we celebrate 25 amazing years of the IPC, but in reality we are celebrating a quarter of a century of immeasurable people power," said Sir Philip, who has served as IPC President since 2001 and was re-elected for a fourth and final term at its General Assembly in Athens last November.
"What the IPC, its member organisations and volunteer networks have achieved since 1989 is unique and, what many thought, unachievable.
"Building upon the foundations laid by our forefathers, we have created something that has changed the lives of millions and touched the hearts and minds of billions more.
"A lot has changed since 1989.
"But what made us special back then was great people, the same core ingredient that is instrumental to our growth and success today."
Joining Sir Philip at the Gala dinner were guests including Princess Margriet of The Netherlands, Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Berlin State Secretary Bernd Krömer.
A letter, which highlighted the success of the Paralympic Games, from United States President Barack Obama was read out by Sir Philip.
"The Paralympic Games - which are now among the largest sporting events in the world - serve as a powerful reminder of the inherent dignity of every individual and of what is possible with determination and grit," wrote Obama.
"Congratulations on this special milestone.
"As you reflect on a quarter of a century of changing lives and opening minds, I wish you the very best for the years ahead."
United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon led a host of video tributes that were played out at the gathering that also included messages from the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.
Ban described the IPC as a "gold medal champion of human rights" adding "you advance progress around the world and I am proud to be your fan."
Merkel described the Paralympic Movement as "an inspiring success story" with the IPC acting as its driving force, while Cameron said his country owed the IPC a debt of gratitude for helping to change attitudes and perceptions of people with an impairment through the Paralympic Games.
Bach sent his "heartfelt congratulations" to the IPC, adding: "you can look back on 25 years with great pride but also with great confidence for the future."
There were also messages from the organisers of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, as well as contributions from South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who where looking ahead to the Pyeongchang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 Games respectively.
The Gala dinner was hosted by Paralympic champion swimmer Lord Chris Holmes of Great Britain and Daráine Mulvihill of British broadcaster Channel 4, which received numerous awards for its coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics.
During the course of the evening, German multiple Paralympic champion Verena Bentele was formally inducted into the Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame for her multi-medal winning success in biathlon and Nordic skiing, which saw her claim gold medals at Nagano 1998, Salt Lake City 2002, Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010.
The 25-year anniversary IPC Membership Gathering is set to conclude in Berlin tomorrow.
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