Rick Hansen is a well-known Canadian who had a dream twenty-five years ago to make the world a more accessible and inclusive place, as well as to find a cure for spinal cord injury. Rick Hansen suffered a spinal cord injury in 1973 when he was thrown from the back of a pick-up truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. He did not let his injury slow him down and later went on to become the first person with a disability to graduate from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Physical Education. He has won 19 international wheelchair marathons, the world title four times, nine gold medals at the Pan American Wheelchair Games, and he represented Canada at the 1984 Olympics.
On March 22, 1985 (I was four-years-old) Rick and his team began the Man In Motion World Tour. For 26 months they wheeled over 40,000 kilometres (the equivalent of three marathons every day) through 34 countries, raising awareness of the potential of people with disabilities. I have no memories of the actual event because I was so young but I do remember learning about Rick Hansen in school growing up.
In 2010 the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the MIMWT began. On April 24, 2011 Rick and his team began retracing the Canadian segment of the MIMWT relay, beginning in Newfoundland, moving from one Man in Motion to Many in Motion. Over the course of nine months, Rick and his team will have travelled 12,000 km and visited 600 communities across Canada. Over 7000 participants will join the relay in their communities as a representation of the original relay. Each medal-bearer will carry and hand-off the Rick Hansen Medal as it makes its way across the country.
Communities had a chance to submit names for potential medal-bearers but a contest was also held to select participants.
I decided to take a chance and submit my name. I thought it would be a great opportunity to be a part of something uniquely Canadian and an experience I would always remember.
Opportunities like this don’t come around often and I am thankful to live in a small community where something like this is possible. Midway is home to 620 people. For Midway to be a stop on something as significant as the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay is a privilege and honour. I will be joining two other medal-bearers in Midway and I know it will represent something different for each of us.
I do not have a disability myself but I am grateful every day that I am able to move freely and do what I love: run.
If the relay is heading to your community please take the time to cheer on the medal-bearers. I’ll be sure to post a recap once the relay is over.