Rick Hansen is a Canadian track and field athlete (Paralympic Games), activist and philanthropist for people with disabilities. Following a pickup truck accident at the age of 15….when Hansen sustained a spinal cord injury and became a paraplegic….who is most famous for his Man in Motion World Tour. He was inducted into the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2006….and was one of the final torchbearers in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
In 1980, fellow British Columbia and Canadian athlete Terry Fox….who had lost a leg to bone cancer, undertook the Marathon of Hope….while intending to run across Canada from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island to raise awareness for cancer research….as he made it from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Thunder Bay, Ontario before a cancer recurrence forced him to stop. Inspired by Terry’s courage, Hansen decided to undertake a similar journey to prove the potential of people with disabilities and to inspire a more accessible world….but his planned path was far more ambitious….as he planned to circle the world in his wheelchair.
He embarked on his Man in Motion World Tour on March 21, 1985 from Oakridge Mall in Vancouver. Although public attention was low at the beginning of the tour, he soon attracted international media attention as he progressed on a 26-month trek….while logging more than 40,000 km (24,855 miles) through 34 countries on four continents before crossing Canada…..when he returned to Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium to cheering crowds of thousands on May 22, 1987….after raising $26 million for spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives. Like Terry Fox, he is hailed as an international hero.