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

Rick Hansen concludes Middle Eastern tour by meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres

Published: December 07 2010

25th Anniversary of Man In Motion World Tour next travels to Australia in February 2011

Jerusalem, Israel
– On the final day of Rick Hansen’s tour of Jordan and Israel – a trip as part of the Rick Hansen Foundation’s 25th Anniversary which saw the Canadian icon honour Jordan’s Prince Ra’ad bin Zeid, re-cross the Allenby Bridge into Israel and expand the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry globally – Hansen concluded the tour by meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Paul Hunt, Canadian Ambassador to Israel, to discuss accessibility issues prior to an event for injured Israeli soldiers from the war veterans sports centre Beit HaLochem Jerusalem.

Beit HaLochem Centres – with branches in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Nahariya – provide a place where an estimated 51,000 injured Israeli veterans, persons with disabilities and victims of terrorism can participate in sports and related activities suited to their individual disability. Having the opportunity on December 5 to tour Beit HaLochem Tel Aviv, which serves 12,000 persons with disabilities and their families, Hansen then met with President Peres on Tuesday to discuss advancements in spinal cord injury research and the need for global collaboration to further accessibility. The meeting took place at President Peres’ official residence – the starting point of an annual race at Chanukah that travels to Beit HaLochem Jerusalem.

“The opportunity to meet and witness the perseverance and incredible resolve of these amazing military heroes from the Beit HaLochem centres will be an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life,” Hansen said following the 6.5 kilometre race that saw participants ride, walk, run and wheel from President Peres’ official residence to Beit Halochem Jerusalem. “The experience was made all the more worthwhile by meeting with President Peres to discuss his tireless support of Israel’s veterans and improvement to the lives of persons with disabilities.President Peres is a world leader in making a positive difference and has truly inspired me to continue on my lifelong journey to find a cure and make the world accessible and inclusive for all.”

The seven-day trip to Jordan and Israel was a component of a larger 25th Anniversary International Program which aims to further international collaboration and partnership agreements in regards to the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry (RHSCIR), recognize international achievements in the areas of finding a cure for spinal cord injuries and celebrate the achievements of the last two and a half decades – all while looking to the future in the hopes that all communities can become accessible and inclusive.

“It’s hard to believe that 25 years have passed since my Man In Motion World Tour visited Jordan and Israel,” Hansen said Tuesday on the grounds of President Peres’ residence. “From the global expansion of the Spinal Cord Injury Registry, to the recognition of individuals who are truly making a difference, and the personal moments such as crossing the Allenby Bridge and visiting the memorial of my friend Terry Fox – we are extremely pleased with the success of our first trip on the 25th Anniversary tour. I would like to extend my sincere and utmost gratitude towards our Jordanian and Israeli hosts, and the gracious hospitality of His Royal Highness Prince Ra’ad bin Zeid and President Shimon Peres. I am extremely hopeful that via the global collaboration that is being done, that we will make the world more accessible for people who have disabilities and come one-step closer to finding a cure for spinal cord injury.”

A consolidated overview of the full Middle-Eastern trip includes:
  • November 30: In Amman, Jordan, 25 years to the month since his original Man In Motion World Tour visited the region, Rick toured the Paralympic Sports Centre and presented the Rick Hansen Difference Maker award that evening to a strong supporter of his original journey, His Royal Highness Prince Ra’ad bin Zeid. The award was bestowed during a reception at the official residence of Mark Gwozdecky, Canadian Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
  • December 1: Hansen entered into Israel from Jordan by wheeling across the Allenby Bridge, a site which he crossed 25 years ago, and required collaboration from the Canadian, Jordanian and Israeli governments and border control.
  • December 2: A major announcement for the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry (RHSCIR) via the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Institute of Medical Research Israel Canada (IMRIC). The Registry, led by the Rick Hansen Institute, is Canada’s living database of information that is an invaluable resource for researchers, clinicians and health care administrators seeking to improve the effectiveness of specific spinal cord injury (SCI) treatments, practices and programs. Already present in more than 30 major hospitals and research institutions, Israel marks the official global expansion of the Registry, with the goal of bridging international and health region borders. Following the Registry signing Hansen took time to re-visit a personal spot located within Jerusalem’s Liberty Bell Park: the memorial of long-time friend and inspiration, Terry Fox.
  • December 5: Following a morning meeting with Paul Hunt, Canadian Ambassador to Israel, Rick toured Bet Halochem Tel Aviv, where he spoke to Israeli soldiers and persons with disabilities, and met a number of Israeli Paralympic athletes who were training in basketball, table tennis and swimming.
In addition to the whirlwind of events and professional meetings, a major component of the 25th Anniversary’s international tour is the Difference Makers program, which aims to recognize individuals who have made a contribution towards a more accessible and inclusive world, those who have furthered discoveries related to a cure for spinal cord injury or recipients who have put service above self to make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others.

Difference Makers award recipients from the trip include:
  • His Royal Highness Prince Ra’ad for his work with the Jordanian Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Professor Aharon Lev-Tov, Professor and Chairperson of the Neurobiology department at Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem was for his creation of an innovative software program that assists the diagnosis of spinal cord and brain injuries;
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Yuval Wagner, a quadriplegic who established Access Israel, an organization that works to increase awareness, ensure accessibility and provide life-altering information to people with disabilities and their families.
The 25th Anniversary’s International Program will continue in February 2011 with Hansen re-visiting Australia to continue the expansion of the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry and resume the recognition of international Difference Makers. The International Program will then travel to China in April 2011 and the United States in June 2011.

About the Rick Hansen Foundation:
The Rick Hansen Foundation is a registered charitable organization that provides leadership to create more accessible and inclusive communities for people with a spinal cord injury, and supports the search for a cure. The Foundation achieves its goals by connecting the people and resources that make innovation possible. Please visit www.rickhansen.com for more information.

About the Rick Hansen Foundation’s 25th Anniversary:
The Rick Hansen Foundation is currently celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour, and the extraordinary progress that has been made in the fields of accessibility and spinal cord injury advancement since. Over the two year anniversary period (March 21, 2010 – May 22, 2012) a number of programs and events will be unveiled to inspire others to dream big, recognize difference makers, create lasting and sustainable legacies and change the world, one good turn at a time.

About the Rick Hansen Institute:
The Rick Hansen Institute (RHI) is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injuries. It does this by leading the collaboration of researchers, health care professionals and service providers across Canada and internationally. RHI works in three core program areas: the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry, which captures information and data to identify improved treatments for people with SCI and support multicentre clinical trials; the funding and sponsoring of translational research; and the implementation of best practices. Please visit www.rickhanseninstitute.org for more information.

View PDF