One of Britain's greatest ever Paralympians said London 2012 would make people think differently about disabled sport at a service in honour of the Games.
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson addressed more than 1,600 people gathered at St Paul's Cathedral for the first ever service ever to be dedicated to the Paralympics.
The Courage and Faith service included a procession of Paralympic medallists, led by nine-time gold medal-winning swimmer Chris Holmes, and a wheelchair basketball demonstration by Britain's men's under-22 team.
Baroness Grey-Thompson, an 11 times gold medal-winning Paralympian athlete told the congregation:
"Nelson Mandela once said that sport has the power to change the world, but I believe it goes beyond this. Paralympic sport has the power to change the world.
"The Paralympic Games will show the world what extraordinary athletes can do, who happen to have a disability.
"These Games will inspire a generation to think differently.
"I'm proud to see that, as I walk around London, posters of Paralympians adorn the streets.
"Paralympians are household names. The public care if they win or lose."
The Bishop of London the Rt Rev Richard Chartres and the Lord Mayor of London David Wootton attended the service, which included a reading by Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee.
The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf and Hearing Children performed, a day after welcoming the French Paralympic team following their arrival in the capital.
Before the service, Baroness Grey-Thompson said: "I'm excited as much about the service as the fact they're going to have wheelchair basketball in here. It's quite rock 'n' roll for a cathedral.
"To bring so many Paralympians from different times together, which doesn't usually happen, on the eve of the Paralympics is amazing."
During her address, Baroness Grey-Thompson paid tribute to the man credited as being the founder of the Paralympic Games.
Neurosurgeon Sir Ludwig Guttman set up the first spinal injury centre at Stoke Mandeville in 1944, where he would later introduce sport into patients' rehabilitation.
Baroness Grey-Thompson said: "Sir Ludwig himself knew what it meant to have to fight for what he believed in.
"While it would have been amazing if he could have been here to see the results of his work, I hope he would have been proud of where we are today."