Beijing, China, April 12, 2011 – Canada’s Man In Motion, Rick Hansen, hosted a symbolic relay at the Great Wall near Beijing in front of a crowd of 500 enthusiastic students.The event was part of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary International Program, an initiative to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hansen’s “Man in Motion World Tour” - which took him over 40,000 kilometers and through 34 countries in 26 months to raise awareness of the potential of people with a disability.
Exactly twenty five years to the date of his original visit to the Great Wall of China, a symbolicrelay was held to connect, engage and inspire young people and serve as a reminder of the important role the next generation will play in accelerating progress toward a more healthy, sustainable and inclusive world.Four students from the Western Academy of Beijing - which has representation from 55 countries - were selected to participate in the symbolic relay.Karoline Aaen (age 16), Herman Chau (age 16), Thomson Chen (age 16) and Carolina Minton-Frias (age 11) were identified as “difference makers,” having demonstrated leadership among their peers and in their community.
“The Great Wall of China played a significant role in the overall success of the original Man In Motion World Tour and was the beginning of a new conversation with China about the potential of people with a disability,” said Rick Hansen, President and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation.“Twenty five years later, it is an honour to be connecting young people at such a symbolic location – the Great Wall of China – and seeing the energy and enthusiasm from the hundreds of students who came out to support my vision of a healthy and inclusive world. The four difference makers who participated today are representative of the millions of kids around the world who are making a difference now.”
As part of the symbolic relay today, Hansen passed the same Rick Hansen Difference Maker medal that was unveiled at the Rick Hansen Senior secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, last week, to Carolina Minton-Frias.It is the same medal that will be passed among 7,000 difference makers during the 9 month cross-Canada 25th Anniversary Relay that begins in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador, on August 24th, 2011.
“I’m honoured, proud and very excited,” said Carolina Minton-Frias, who was selected for her leadership including fundraising efforts for students in need and the donation of her hair to the Locks of Love Foundation which makes wigs for children with cancer. “This is a once in a lifetime chance that inspires me to do more – and I am going to do more.”
Hosted by Canadian Mark Rowswell – a popular celebrity in China known as “Dashan,” – the event drew attendance from the Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China, David Mulroney.
The relay today is the first of a number of activities that Rick Hansen will be participating in while in China.Over the next 11 days, Hansen will visit Beijing, Shanghai, Shantou and Hong Kong to engage youth, recognize Chinese difference makers in the areas of SCI research for a cure and accessibility, and further partnerships in the areas of research and accessibility through a series of collaborative agreements.
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 while accelerating progress to a more healthy and inclusive world. 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. 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), formerly the Spinal Cord Injury Solutions Network (SCISN), is a Canada-wide collaboration of researchers, health care professionals and service providers, all committed to improving the outcomes for people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) – through research, identification and implementation of best practices, and providing solutions through community partnerships. RHI’s role is to help influence all elements of the innovation system for SCI treatment, care and other services through three core areas: translational research, best practice implementation and The Rick Hansen SCI Registry. Please visit www.rickhanseninstitute.org for more information.
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For More Information:
Hill & Knowlton (China)
Tel: (8610) 59677622
Fax: (8610) 6512 3712
Rick Hansen Foundation:
Robin Russell (in China)
Rick Hansen Foundation representative in China