Running with the best: a photo essay

It was Day 232 of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay and Parks Canada provided a few firsts for the medal as it made its way across the country and shared some of the lasting effects Rick Hansen’s original tour had on Glacier National Park.

The medal is retracing its way along Rick Hansen’s original 12,000 km route through 600 communities and is carried by champions of inclusivity, accessibility, youth, the environment, health and medical progress. These champions called, ‘difference makers,’ further Rick Hansen’s efforts to make the world a better place.

Alice Weber, Parks Canada Outreach Education Officer for Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks was one of the difference makers who participated in the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay as it passed through Glacier National Park on April 11.

Alice was asked to be a medal bearer because she helped develop the Glacier Adventure Stewardship Program (GASP) that provides experiences and skills to youth in Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks while the youth carry out stewardship activities in the parks and in the community. She chronicles her experience through this photo essay:

My first view of the relay medal - carried by Grade 10 Revelstoke student Drew Derosier. Drew has cerebral palsy and I was inspired by his determination and enthusiasm as he rolled into the downtown plaza. Alice Weber photo
The next morning, after passing through a few more ‘difference makers’ hands at the local schools, Joey Dejardins, one of the Rick Hansen Endurance Athletes brings the medal to the Mount Revelstoke National Park West Welcome Station and hands it off to Parks Canada’s Mike Pendrak. This is the first time the relay medal will ride by snow plough. Alice Weber photo
Mike had the honour of shaking hands with Rick Hansen in Glacier National Park 25 years ago, and was inspired by his determination and accomplishments. This powerful image of Rick is mounted inside the relay tour bus as a reminder of where it all started. Alice Weber photo
Mike Pendrak works as snow plough driver for Glacier National Park, the snowiest section of the Trans Canada Highway, and he lives with cerebral palsy. Mike says, “Life is a deck of cards. When you are born, you are dealt a hand. And if that hand is not a good hand, you don’t fold. You play the game out.” He adds that the reason he’s still ‘holding’ is because of his parents and brother and, “life has been good.” When reflecting on carrying the Rick Hansen medal Mike says, “It was an honour to do it. It was good, a bit emotional and it's a day I will never forget.” Alice Weber photo
Mike drives the medal into Glacier National Park and hands the medal to Canadian Forces Bombardier Shaston Beaumont-Smith. For more than fifty years, Canadian Forces have participated in Parks Canada’s Avalanche Control Program in Rogers Pass. Bombardier Shaston Beaumont-Smith from the 26th Field Artillery Regiment in Brandon, Manitoba felt “very privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself." Alice Weber photo
Next, Gunner Jordan Hildebrandt from the 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Shilo Manitoba receives the medal. “It was a fun, exhilarating, inspirational run and made me feel like I was running for a great cause.” Alice Weber photo
Now it was my turn, Hildebrandt places the relay medal around my neck. I am surprised by its weight. The sterling silver medal weighs 400 grams. The intersecting ribbons on its face imply the concept of “Many in Motion”. The most amazing aspect of the medal is the intricate texture of the imprinted palm of an actual cycling glove worn by Rick Hansen on his Man in Motion Tour. Alice Weber photo
I run with the medal through Glacier National Park, with the snowy peaks of Eagle and Avalanche Mountains before me as “St. Elmo’s Fire” –the Man in Motion theme song—streams from the back of the Relay Tour bus; it is an incredible experience. Alice Weber photo
I pass the medal to Emma Knight Flood, a student from the GASP program. Emma has contributed extra time and energy to the program and is definitely a ‘difference maker’ Alice Weber photo
Running alongside Emma was a great chance to celebrate the successes of the relay and GASP. Emma felt "glad to represent parks and the GASP program” She wrote a short Haiku to express her experience: “From your hand to mine/ Held by 7000 thousand others/ Many in motion.”
Although each of us carried the medal for only a few hundred metres, but we ran the entire 2 kilometres together. Alice Weber photo
A beautiful day and an enthusiastic group added to the experience. Alice Weber photo
Our run finished at the snow-covered trailhead of the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk. This 400m trail through ancient cedar and hemlock forest was built in Rick Hansen’s honour in 1992 and is barrier free for mobility and visually-impaired persons. It was inspired by Rick’s journey through the park in 1987. Here is a picture taken in the summer. Alice Weber photo
Emma passes the medal back to Mike, who drives it the remainder of the way to the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre in the heart of Glacier National Park. Alice Weber photo
In the shadow of the peaks of Rogers Pass, the entire group of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks medal carriers gather together for a moment of reflection and celebration. Left to Right: Greg Hill, Shaston Beaumont-Smith, Jordan Hildebrandt, Mike Pendrak, Emma Knight Flood, Alice Weber, Eric Dafoe.
Mike hands the medal to Greg Hill, a local skier who has made his name by skiing up and down 2 million feet of vertical in one year in 2011. Rogers Pass is a world-class ski-touring destination, and provides the medal with its first ski-touring experience. Alice Weber photo
Greg was accompanied by long time Parks Canada Warden and Avalanche Control Technician Eric Dafoe, who has ski-toured over just about every mountain in Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks. Together, they ski the medal to a ridge top above Rogers Pass. Alice Weber photo
Upon their return, Eric hands the medal back to Joey Dejardins, Rick Hansen Endurance Athlete and all three pose for a picture. Alice Weber photo
Rick Reynolds, Visitor Experience Manager in Glacier National Park, shares a moment with Joey outside the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre and tells how Rick Hansen’s original tour inspired the park to create the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, a wheel-chair accessible trail through an ancient rainforest. Alice Weber photo
Joey departs from Rogers Pass with Mount Tupper looking on. He now travels with the medal for two weeks, passing through the East Kootenays and then through the Okanagan. Be sure to cheer him on and if you are a “difference maker” carrying the medal I am sure you will enjoy your experience as much as I did. Alice Weber photo