Flashback Friday: Man in Motion tour ends after two gruelling years
Nick Wells, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, May 22, 2015 6:30AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 22, 2015 6:44AM EDT
It was on this day, 28 years ago, that Rick Hansen crossed the Port Mann bridge into Vancouver to mark the end of his two-year Man in Motion World Tour.
On May 22, 1987 the tour came to an end at a mall on the west side of Vancouver, the same site where Hansen set out on the epic wheelchair tour back on March 21, 1985.
Taking inspiration from Terry Fox, who in 1980 launched the Marathon of Hope to run across Canada, Hansen decided to wheel around the world to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries.
Hansen, from Williams Lake in central B.C., would wheel for about eight hours a day, travelling an average of 85 kilometres in that time frame. By the time he crossed the finish line in Vancouver, Hansen had travelled 40,075 kilometres spread across 34 countries on four continents.
The tour would inspire the hit 1985 song “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion),” written by Canadian David Foster and Briton John Parr. It would become the theme in the eponymous film.
In CTV archival footage, a young Hansen discussed what motivated him throughout the tour.
Speaking with then-CTV anchor Lloyd Robertson shortly after he finished the tour, Hansen discussed his commitment to his tour team as well as his desire to help improve the lives of people with disabilites.
Most importantly, he says, was the desire to accomplish the goal he had set himself.
“[It] was the commitment of my whole life to achieve and accomplish that dream. Everything else took second precedent,” he said.
He also talked about the reception he encountered while travelling.
“I’ve had an opportunity to experience the best of humanity. When I left Vancouver, I had my questions and doubts about what it was like out there,” he told Robertson. “As far as my experience goes, we were treated so consistently good by no matter which country we went through, no matter who we met, people were wonderful.”
It was also during the tour that Hansen became engaged with his future wife. Amanda Reid had met Hansen while working as a physiotherapist. She joined the tour initially for two weeks. She would end up staying for the duration with Hansen proposing to her when they reached New Brunswick.
The tour was noted for having little buzz when it left Canada. It wasn’t until he departed for Italy, and had a meeting with Pope John Paul II that interest began to build.
It would be capped off by thousands of people turning out in Tianjin, China to cheer him on and throw flowers in his path.
By the time Hansen rolled across the Port Mann bridge and into Vancouver, roughly $26 million had been raised for spinal cord research. Since then, the Rick Hansen Foundation has raised more than $300 million to help those with spinal cord injuries.
"It was a wonderful reinforcement on the good of mankind," Hansen said of the tour.