'Incredible' reliving Man in Motion, Rick Hansen says
Published Wednesday, May 23, 2012 10:14AM EDT
Twenty-five years ago, Canadian Paralympian Rick Hansen travelled over four continents and racked up more than 40,000 kilomotres in his wheelchair to spotlight the need for spinal-cord research with his Man in Motion World Tour in 1987.
On Tuesday, the 54-year-old activist marked another important milestone as he as completed his 25th anniversary Man in Motion relay in Vancouver.
"It's incredible to be back in Vancouver to relive that moment. That first journey was incredible and powerful," Hansen told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday.
That journey, begun when Hansen was 29, started a global conversation about creating a healthy and inclusive world for everyone.
"It helped make some profound and real changes," Hansen said.
Following a car crash at the age of 15, Hansen sustained a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the waist down. Since that event, Hansen made it his mission to change the world's perception of what could be accomplished by those living with spinal cord injuries.
Thanks to his original Man in Motion World Tour, which ended on May 22, 1987, Hansen became an inspiration to many Canadians living with spinal cord injuries.
He has also raised more than $250 million through his foundation for spinal cord research.
"Twenty-five years ago there was very little hope for a person living with a spinal cord injury. That's changed," said Hansen.
"Today in laboratories and research institutes they're learning how to protect the spine. Over the next 25 years anything is possible," he said.
That hopeful outlook was unmistakable among the 7,000 Canadians who turned out in support of Hansen's latest cross-Canada tour, which began in August of 2011 in Cape Spear, Newfoundland.
The participants were chosen to pass the "baton," a silver medal, from Cape Spear to Vancouver, where the relay wound its way through the downtown core to the Terry Fox Plaza on Tuesday.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson were among the runners who took part in the final leg of the relay.
The public's continued enthusiasm clearly touched Hansen and left this activist feeling more hopeful about his mission and the breakthroughs to come in spinal cord research.
"We all need hope and inspiration," said Hansen.
"We all have setbacks. But we can make a difference. If we come together we can build the Canada we want that's healthy and inclusive," he said.