“Rick wakes up, opening his eyes to see the interior of the motor home and tries to remember which town or even which country he is in. Tired from the rigours of the previous day including the late night public appearance, he starts to mentally prepare for another day on the road.
He can hear the rain drumming on the roof and the sounds of the crew stirring. His shoulders, arms and back ache from the strain of pushing his chair through the equivalent of two marathons yesterday, and he’s about to do it all over again.”
– Excerpt from A Hero’s Welcome by Richard L. Peterson
A Seemingly Impossible Dream
The depth and difficulty of wheeling around the world are sometimes lost when you simply review the facts: 40,075 km over two years, two months and two days; 34 countries on four continents; $26 million in donations; and unprecedented awareness raised regarding the true potential of people with disabilities. By looking more closely at a typical day on the Tour, the magnitude and intensity of such a feat can be appreciated.
The Courage to Try
A world-class athlete, Rick woke up at dawn to prepare to wheel two marathons every day of the Tour. He averaged 30,000 strokes a day through all kinds of terrain, in all kinds of weather – despite severe injuries to his shoulders, wrists and hands, bouts of carbon monoxide poisoning, flu, bladder infections, and pressure sores.
In addition to wheeling, he also managed the Tour, talked to media, delivered countless speeches, visited schools and hospitals and attended community events. This meant that he usually didn’t go to bed before midnight.
Add to this, layers of emotional, financial, technological and logistical challenges, and you can begin to imagine a typical day on the Tour. While days of rest were necessary to heal, recover from illness, travel between continents, and attend public events, Rick wheeled 465 of the total 792 days that the team was on the road.
While the Tour ended in 1987, Rick’s journey had just begun. Now – over 25 years later – Rick still wakes up every day with the same level of commitment, determination and drive to continue pursuing the two big dreams that fuelled the Tour – making communities more accessible and inclusive, and finding a cure for paralysis after SCI.
To learn more about a typical day, check out this excerpt from A Hero’s Welcome by Richard L. Peterson
Fast Facts about the Man In Motion World Tour
Start date/End date: March 21, 1985 – May 22, 1987
Total distance: 40,075 km (24,901.55 Mi)
Countries visited: 34 countries over 4 continents
Average daily distance: 85 km
Average daily speed: 9 km/hr in the city; 14 km/hr in the country
Average daily hours spent wheeling: 8 hours
Total number of wheelchair tires worn out: 160 tires
Biggest crowd in: Tianjin, China
Highest summit: 5, 577 ft up the Swiss Alps
Most homesick moment: Terry Fox Garden in Jerusalem, Israel
Total number of letters received: 200,007
Donation total: $26 million