“The goal you set must be challenging. At the same time, it should be realistic and attainable, not impossible to reach. It should be challenging enough to make you stretch, but not so far that you break.” – Rick Hansen
On June 27, 1973, Rick Hansen was on his way home from a fishing trip when he was thrown from the back of a pickup truck and sustained a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the waist down.
Encouraged by his high school volleyball coach to stay involved in sports, Hansen went on to be the first student with a physical disability to graduate in physical education from the University of British Columbia.
He won national championships in wheelchair volleyball and basketball, and later became a world-class wheelchair marathoner and Paralympic athlete. Hanesn competed in wheelchair racing in both the 1980 and 1984 Summer Paralympic Games and won a total of three gold, two silver and one bronze medal.
His dream of creating an accessible, inclusive world and of finding a cure for spinal cord injuries led Hansen to make history on March 21, 1985, when he set out on his Man in Motion World Tour (MMWT) from Oakridge Mall in Vancouver, B.C.
The MMWT went on for 26 months, spanning 40,000 kilometers throughout 34 countries. The goal? There were three: to raise awareness about the potential of people with disabilities, to create accessible, inclusive communities and to find a cure for spinal cord injuries.
Hansen’s world-wide ride attracted international media attention and raised $26 million for spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives. Following the MMWT, Hansen went on to create the Rick Hansen Foundation (1997) To date, the foundation has generated more than $200 million for spinal cord injury-related programs. Hansen currently sits as President and CEO of this foundation.
Fast Facts About the MMWT*
Start/End date: March 21, 1985 – May 22, 1987
Total distance: 40,598 km
Countries visited: 34 countries over 4 continents
Average daily distance: 85 km
Average daily speed: 9 km/hr in the city; 14km/hr in the country
Total number of wheelchair tires worn out: 160 tires
Biggest crowd in: Tianjin, China
Highest summit: 5,577 ft up the Swiss Alps
Total number of letters received: 200,007
Total donations: $26 million
*Courtesy of rickhansen.com
25 Years Later: Fast Facts About the Many in Motion Relay
Many in Motion 2011: A 25th Anniversary Relay Celebrating the Man in Motion World Tour (1985 – 1978)
Start/End date: August 24, 2011 – May 22, 2012
Total distance: 12,000 km
Average daily distance: 40 to 80 km
Participants: 7,000 difference-makers from all across Canada will fully recreate the original Man in Motion cross-Canada tour, traveling through every province and territory