Adventurer at Heart
Rick Hansen has always been an adventurer at heart. As a young boy, he dreamed of going on a great adventure one day, and even toyed with the idea of cycling around the world with friends.
Losing the use of his legs at 15 years old forced him to reframe what kinds of adventures were possible. It also opened his eyes to how differently society treated people with disabilities – many people saw his injury before they saw him.
Inspiration and support
Following his injury, Rick was all the more grateful for the acceptance, support and guidance he received from people close to him: his mentor Stan Stronge, his coach Tim Frick, the love of his life Amanda Reid, and his good friend Terry Fox. They inspired him to “dream big” and to focus his dreams on making a difference in the lives of others.
Little more than a fantasy at first, the idea of a tour progressed along with Rick’s athletic career. The more success he had as an athlete, the more he believed he could actually wheel around the world. The more he believed in himself, the more he travelled internationally.
Everywhere he went, he saw people with disabilities being marginalized. He knew that someone had to do something to show the world that people of all abilities could participate and contribute as productive members of their communities. He decided to be that someone.
Planning for the Tour began in earnest. Rick assembled a team, secured the necessary equipment and sought expert advice.
In 1985, at the age of 27, Rick Hansen set out on a journey that would make history. Inspired by his dreams to create awareness of the potential of people with disabilities and the importance of a world without barriers, and to find a cure for paralysis after spinal cord injury, and fuelled by a deep seated belief that ‘anything is possible,’ Rick and his team battled the elements and the odds for more than two years through 34 countries on four continents.
He wheeled the equivalent of two marathons every day (40,000 kilometres in total) before returning home to a hero’s welcome in Vancouver. His Man In Motion World Tour was complete. Rick and his team had not only raised awareness of the potential of people with disabilities but they had also managed to raise $26 million to help realize Rick’s dream of a truly accessible and inclusive world.
The End Was Just the Beginning
Soon after the Tour ended, Rick realized that his dream had yet to become a reality. This extraordinary feat inspired people around the world to believe in their own potential, hopes and dreams. And it sparked a public dialogue that led to new policies, building codes and legislation aimed at making communities more accessible and inclusive.
While the Tour was an incredible journey of epic proportions, great distances and ambitious goals, social stereotypes were still alive. The spinal cord injury research and care communities were fragmented. Without ongoing leadership and vision, the progress achieved would crumble. More needed to be done and Rick was not about to give up.
To learn more about how the Tour propelled Rick’s vision and inspired him to pursue his dream of a truly accessible and inclusive world through the Rick Hansen Foundation, click here.