Canada's celebrated Man in Motion, Rick Hansen, will launch a cross-country relay in Cape Spear, Newfoundland, this summer...25 years to the date of his journey home after a world-wide tour that highlighted the "potential of people" with disabilities.
The relay will pass through more than 600 communities during the nine-month, 12,000 kilometre journey, which is scheduled to start August 24, 2011 and finish in Vancouver on May 22, 2012,
Approximately 7,000 people will participate in the relay, chosen in a contest in the spring of 2001, the 53-year-old British Columbia native said in an interview on CBC News Network.
“We wanted to do something that was reminiscent of the original tour, but really focusing on how much further we've come,” said Hansen. “What better way to do that ~ to move from one person to many, to actually identify 7,000 people who have made real change in communities all across Canada along that original route, and celebrate their stories and success.”
Although Hansen will launch the journey in Newfoundland and Labrador,
and make twenty appearances along the route, the participants will "drive the relay", collectively, covering an average of 40 to 80 kilometres a day. A Rick Hansen medal produced by the Royal Canadian Mint will be passed from one person to the next along the trek.
In more densely populated areas, participants will cover an average distance of 250 metres using different varieties of movement. During the longer distances between communities, innovative forms of transportation will include hand-cycling, snowmobiling, adaptive rowing and other approaches.
A spinal cord injury in a car crash at age 15 left Rick Hansen, who was born in Port Alberni, British Columbia, paralysed from the waist down.
After rehabilitation, he returned to his passion for sports and won
19 international marathons, including six medals as a Paralympian.
At age 27 on March 21, 1985, he began his original Man in Motion tour, eventually wheeling 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries over two years before returning home to Vancouver, having raised $26 million to increase awareness about disabilities.
Since then,the Rick Hansen Foundation has generated more than $200 million for quality of life projects, awareness programs and research.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people who have been working day in and day out in local communities, bringing this to people's attention,” said Hansen, “and we want their stories to be told because it gives us a sense of “Wow, we're making progress and it's happiness because people care.”
The relay across Canada is part of a two-year anniversary project for the Rick Hansen Foundation that began March 21, celebrating the progress made in accessibility for disabled people and spinal cord injury research.
“We need to inspire the next generation. Kids everywhere have passion,
and they have the ability to make a difference,” Hansen said.
“We want to be able to channel that toward encouraging young scientists
to find a cure. How many kids sitting in classrooms today might be thinking
about what they might do...to advance one of the greatest challenges
that medical science has ever embarked on?”
written August 25, 2011