It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion World Tour.  It is equally hard for me to imagine that someone might not know who he is.  In the interest of those that do not know the influence Rick Hansen has had on this world; let me tell you he is nothing short of a hero!

 

As a teenage boy coming home from a fishing trip, Rick Hansen and his friend Don Alder were thrown from the back of a pickup truck.   That day would change the rest of his life as Rick was paralyzed from the waist down with a spinal cord injury.  Perhaps what he didn’t know was that he was going to create positive change in the lives of so many people. There’s a saying “If you fall off a horse, get back on.”  Rick Hansen did just that.  He went back to fishing and finding that adventurist spirit again.  Fishing led to conservation efforts and inclusion, providing other people with disabilities opportunities to experience fishing.  He even raised money in the Rick Hansen Fishing Challenge to support and protect precious ecosystems. 

 

It was a few years later, when I was in my early twenties thatI witnessed Rick Hansen’s excellence, determination and sheer will power to make a difference.  I lived on what many considered a ridiculously long and steep hill.   It was a hill that even I avoided walking.  It was at the bottom of that hill that I stood with my sister in awe of this man as he wheeled by with strength all his own but with the hearts of so many.  This was just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada nearing the end of his Man in Motion World Tour.  Amazingly Mr. Hansen had travelled through 34 countries on 4 continents, in 26 months, wheeling over 40,000 kilometres.  His tour was inspired by the dream of finding a cure for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and creating a world that would be accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities.  

 

The Man in Motion World Tour raised a staggering 26 million dollars and was the catalyst to making communities more inclusive and accessible.  It got people talking and viewing those with disabilities no longer by their injury, but instead as contributing members of their communities.   It got people to listen, to accept and to act.  Research was underway.  It was clear that the goals he had set were going to need ongoing support.  The Rick Hansen Foundation was born to continue that dream.  The foundation turned that $26 million into $245 million of leveraged investments. 

 

This gold medal Paralympian, World Champion and UBC graduate of physical education, is about to move us again with the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay.  This cross Canada journey will begin August 24th, 2011 in Cape Spear Newfoundland and Labrador and follow the original path of the Canadian segment of his first tour.  The relay will travel through more than 600 communities and log 12,000 kilometres, ending in Vancouver, BC on May 22, 2012. 

 

The Relay team will feature Medal-Bearers who will run, walk, wheel or bike their segments of this journey.  Unlike the first tour, it will be these 7000 Medal-Bearers who will complete this cross Canada tour.  Rick will be present at a number of cities and stops along the way.  The singular Rick Hansen Medal, produced by the Royal Canadian Mint, will be passed along by the Medal-Bearers. The job of the Medal-Bearers is not just to do get through their part of relay but to inspire people across Canada to participate in positive change.  As outlined on the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay website these Medal-Bearers are representing examples of making a difference in: “Championing Inclusivity, Empowering Youth, Protecting the Planet, Promoting Health, and Medical Progress.”

 

Looking back on these pictures, I had a good laugh when I saw the ones of my sister and I.  I decided not to scare my readers by publishing them.  Those days of bad fashions and wild hair just shouldn’t be shared. This time I will bring my daughter to share this experience.  I will cheer with pride for the Medal-Bearers, for Rick Hansen, his crew, for all those supporting and participating this event.  I will do my best to make a difference.  Will You?

 

If you would like to follow this relay, click here.  

 

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(Wheel-ist-ic) Adj: awareness or acceptance of actual fact, real existence, or truth with relation to inclusion, accessibility and/or persons with disabilities.

Let’s Be Wheelisitic is a blog designed to open communication, share and create change through parenting, awareness, inclusion and advocacy. Over the years people have encouraged me to use my voice and experiences with my daughter to help others with or without disabilities, or parents of children with disabilities. This blog is my way of doing just that. I hope you will find this site enjoyable, educational, helpful, and rewarding.
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