Sunday, December 11, 2005

Man in Motion

Someone recently asked me to suggest a person who would be an apt rolemodel & hero and to avoid the cliched answers of Gandhi, Luther King, Mandela & Mother Theresa. I though for five minutes and gave him the answer I am sure he wasn't expecting - Rick Hansen.

Rick Hansen, C.C., O.B.C., (born August 26, 1957, Port Alberni, British Columbia) is a Canadian paraplegic athlete and humanitarian most famous for his Man in Motion tour, in which he circumnavigated the globe in a wheelchair to raise public awareness of spinal cord research. Born in Port Alberni, Hansen grew up in Williams Lake, BC. He was a young athlete who had won all-star awards in five sports when he was paralyzed at the age of 15, after he was thrown from the back of a truck. Although initially deeply despondent, he soon learned to conquer his disability. He worked on rehabilitation, completed high school, then became the first student with a physical disability to graduate in Physical Education from the University of British Columbia. He went on to become a world class champion wheelchair marathoner and 1984 Olympic athlete. Hansen won 19 international wheelchair marathons, including three world championships.

He was inspired to attempt his greatest feat by his friend, Terry Fox, who attempted an 8000 km cross-Canada marathon with an artificial leg in the name of raising funds for cancer research.

He is married to Amanda, his Wheels in Motion trainer. They have three daughters, Emma Kathleen (a model and avid volleyball player), Alana and Rebecca and live in Richmond, BC.

He started on March 21, 1985 from Oakridge Mall in Vancouver, Canada. Although public attention was low at the beginning of his trek, he soon became a worldwide media sensation as he progressed on a twenty-six month long trek that would log over 40,000 km through thirty-four countries on four continents before crossing Canada. He returned to Vancouver's BC Place Stadium in triumph to cheering crowds of thousands on May 22, 1987 after raising $26 million for spinal cord research. Like Fox, he was hailed as a national hero. Today, the wheelchair and many other items associated with the Man in Motion world tour are preserved by the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin' sky
I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire

Song for the day - "St.Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion) - JOHN PARR