By David F. Rooney
Twenty-five years ago Rick Hansen propelled himself into the hearts of Canadians everywhere with the now-famous Man in Motion World Tour that saw him wheel his way through 34 countries in 26 months.
Now, his campaign to focus world attention on the rights, abilities and needs of people with spinal-cord injuries is being reprised and the local segment of his original tour is going to be repeated here on April 10 and 11.
Rick Hansen himself will not be here for this event, called the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay.
“Unfortunately, Rick is unable to join the Relay in Revelstoke due to other commitments with the Foundation,” Rick Hansen Foundation spokeswoman Vicki Brydon said Friday.
Although Rick did originally come through Revelstoke in 1987 this time a number of local people will relay the official Rick Hansen Difference Maker Medal, produced by the Royal Canadian Mint,hand-to-hand across the route through Revelstoke (see the maps).
The Revelstoke residents on the preliminary list to carry the medal are Chris Ball, Kendra
Blakely, Talia Camozzi, Pauline Hunt, Raine Carnegie, Dzidra Gallicano, Simon Brittin, Scott Guthrie, Maria Speerbrecker, Kees Vandermeer, Drew Desrosier, Emily Suchy, Laura Deslaurier, Gina Cinelli, Todd Hicks, Kitt Redhead and Jonah Deschamps. A final list will be released by relay organizers later this week.
“I’m in the right age group to remember Rick Hansen’s original tour,” says Pauline Hunt, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disorder.
“Some of my focus (by participating in the anniversary relay) is to increase awareness of disabled people. This is an amazing opportunity to do just that.”
“I think it takes a lot of courage to do what Rick Hansen did,” Arrow Heights Elementary student Kees Vandermere said. “I heard about it (the original Man in Motion World Tour) and I just kind of talked about helping out.”
Now, he’ll get to wear a uniform of navy Nike dri-fit pants, a yellow Nike dri-fit jacket and blue Rick Hansen Relay toque as he carries the official 25th anniversary medal on his portion of the relay route.
The 25th anniversary journey began on August 24 in Cape Spear, Newfoundland – and will end with a homecoming celebration in Vancouver on May 22.
After the Man in Motion World Tour, Hansen established the Rick Hansen Foundation to find a cure for spinal cord injuries and create more accessible communities.
Since 1988, the foundation has leveraged the $26 million raised during the Tour into $252 million in investments towards spinal cord research, accessibility projects and quality of life initiatives.
More details will be available as the relay’s arrival draws near.