Raising awareness, changing attitudes and removing barriers for people with disabilities in the built environment

Don Alder, Equipment Manager, Rick’s childhood friend

Growing up together, Rick and Don shared a passion for fishing and the outdoors. In fact, it was on the way back from a fishing trip that Rick and Don were thrown from the back of a pickup truck – causing Rick to be paralyzed from the waist down.

Years later, Don received a call from Rick to invite him on the Man In Motion World Tour. The invite was extended with the proviso that Don was able to quit smoking and run up to 10 miles a day. Doubting his own physical ability, Don began to train and successfully achieved both goals.

As Equipment Manager, Don earned the nickname “Mad Max” in his inventive, problem-solving quest to make Rick’s chair efficiently adjustable and functional and to make constant adjustments and modifications so Rick could avoid injuries.

The specialized knowledge acquired during this time served him well when he later became Equipment Manager for the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Team and 2000 Sydney Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby Teams, and volunteered with B.C. Wheelchair Sports youth to develop a better understanding of their equipment.

He also joined the band Spinal Chord which performed to create awareness for the Vancouver Adapted Music Society (founded by lead singer/keyboardist Sam Sullivan, former Mayor of Vancouver). Today, Don works as the Technical Production Manager for the Rick Hansen Foundation. He is also a globally renowned, award-winning finger-style guitarist. Learn more about Don by visiting his website or Facebook page.