Man in Motion celebrates 25th 0
Canadian paralympian Rick Hanson (C) celebrates the 25th Anniversay of his Man in Motion World Tour with supporters in Vancouver, British Columbia May 22, 2012. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)
It’s only on rare occasions that dream and reality come together.
On Tuesday they merged for the second time in Rick Hansen’s life, as he wheeled back into Vancouver's BC Place, a quarter century after his Man in Motion World Tour.
This time, he may have had the help of 7,000 supporters who walked, ran, biked and wheeled across Canada in his stead during the anniversary relay, but his emotion and sense of accomplishment were in no way diminished.
“There are few moments in life when the dream and reality are the same. This is one of those unbelievable moments,” said Hansen, his voice trembling, to several hundred supporters gathered at Terry Fox Plaza in Vancouver, including Premier Christy Clark, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Minister of State for Seniors Alice Wong. “The emotion was the same: overwhelmed, filled with joy, filled with that sense of meaning and purpose.”
The nine-month anniversary tour began last August in Newfoundland, retracing the Canadian segment of Hansen’s original Man in Motion World Tour with participants handing off a silver medal forged by the Royal Canadian Mint.
“This medal has been energized by 7,000 Canadians representing millions. It makes you feel proud it’s been worn by so many,” he said.
“As I came across Canada, with so many thousands of difference makers and the Many in Motion Relay, I felt so privileged to hear the heartbeat of Canada expressed one person, one good turn at a time,” he said.
Back when Hansen undertook his original world tour — raising $26 million — Canadians with spinal cord injuries had a 30% chance of some degree of recovery.
In the 25 years since, Hansen’s foundation has raised $245 million, and the chance of some recovery has climbed to 70%.
“Look around and you see curb cuts, ramps, cross walks that are audible for those with visual impairments. More importantly you see people with disabilities engaged in our society,” said Hansen, now 54. “People walk up to me and say, ‘Thank you. I’m walking again.’
“That wouldn’t have happened 25 years ago.”
It didn’t happen for Hansen — paralyzed from the waist down at 15 when his spine was severed in a pickup truck accident — but he no longer dreams of walking.
“You go back to the days of a 15-year-old kid in a hospital bed with a shattered spine and told would never walk again, thinking your hopes and dreams were gone and not to have too much hope because there wouldn’t be much out there,” he recalled. “And to be able to compare that to this moment, knowing I’m one of the luckiest guys on the planet, I’d never, ever trade my life for the use of my legs.”