Rick Hansen

Rick Hansen

8 September, 2011
Defying the odds
Paralympian and activist Rick Hansen visits HK on 25th Anniversary Man in Motion Tour
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Rick Hansen, despite being paralyzed from the waist down due to an accident in his youth, hasn’t been stopped from maximizing his potential and doing things that seem impossible even for the average person. He embarked on a journey called the Man in Motion tour by wheeling himself around the world, traveling over 40,000 km and passing through 34 countries over the course of two years, two months and two days and raising CAD$26 million on the tour. But the end of the tour was only the beginning of his journey. Since then, he has raised over CAD $250 million to date, continuing the quest for an accessible and inclusive society and a cure for spinal cord injury, in addition to winning 19 international wheelchair marathons, nine gold medals at the 1982 Pan American Wheelchair Games and six Paralympic medals between 1980 and 1984. Talk about not letting life slow you down!

Rick’s story has inspired and continues to inspire people all over the world because he is not limited by his wheelchair and he continues to open up possibilities for himself and others without giving up. For Rick, “hope is the most important thing [because] it can help us be inspired to persevere and to know that we’re never alone.” He says, “to know that I have support from family, friends, role models and the strength to go on amidst dark moments and to have the conscious ability to make the choice of what I see during difficult times gives me momentum.”

He continues to support and congratulate others who are making a difference, and bring together people from different parts of the world for common goals. Throughout his journey, he has been inspired by people he has come across in his life, including fellow Canadian Terry Fox, the young Canadian hero who attempted to run across Canada despite one amputated leg to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Rick’s greatest support comes from his family; he notes that “my journey has surrounded me with people who have given me hope and encouragement, and it is my turn to pay it forward to help others.”

As part of Rick’s 25th anniversary tour, he is visiting five of the countries he passed through during his original Man in Motion tour 25 years ago, including China, the US, Israel, Jordan and Australia. In Hong Kong, he spoke at a luncheon organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and presented the Difference Makers Award to three members of the Hong Kong community. The Difference Makers Awards program was launched in December 2010 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original tour. It acknowledges individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to spinal cord research, awareness and advocacy for accessible communities in the last 25 years. Three of the fourteen awards were awarded in Hong Kong respectively to Professor Kwok Fai So, Professor in Neuroscience at the Department of Anatomy, University of Hong Kong who continues to inspire the next generation, training researchers who will go on to develop the innovations of tomorrow; Ajmal Samuel, CEO of ASAP Transaction Processing Corporation Ltd. and a tireless advocate in raising awareness about issues that affect people with disabilities in Hong Kong; and Suzanne Poon, Chair of the Hong Kong Spinal Cord Injury Fund fundraising committee and an active volunteer who has exemplified service above self.

Rick says that he is inspired every time he meets with leaders and champions and learns about their unique stories, and that they all have one thing in common and that is “the indomitable and incredible attitude and spirit to not accept limitations and to move forward and excel, to do something for more than themselves and translate that into helping others”. He congratulates these outstanding individuals for their ability to persevere, to live with dignity, to give hope to others, and to create more accessible communities and a better world for future generations.

To continue to create an accessible world and research for cure for spinal cord injury, Rick is building a global institute for spinal cord research, with an aim to connect a hundred sites around the world to share ideas and knowledge of clinical trials as well as a global navigation rating system so that people with disabilities can rate buildings around the world and share knowledge about the progress of accessibility in various areas. He is also continuing to engage leaders and youth to bring together champions and encourage collaboration for Interdependence 2012, a four-day international conference on the creation of accessible communities and spinal cord research as part of the celebration for the 25th anniversary of the original tour.

By: Ecozine Staff
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