Rick Hansen Foundation 2014 Fall Newsletter

Renee By Renee On November 26, 2014 RHF News

What is new with the Rick Hansen Foundation this fall?


Click to jump to section:

  1. Message from Rick
  2. Research
    1. Meet a Researcher – Dr. Brian Kwon
    2. Research and Innovation
  3. Accessibility
    1. Quality of Life Program
    2. planat™: access matters™
    3. Mom! Let's go for a ride!
    4. Did you know?
  4. Awareness
    1. Rick Hansen School and Ambassador Programs
  5. How to help



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Message from Rick

Thank you! Your ongoing support helps break down the barriers faced by people with disabilities.

I’d like to share some statistics. The United Nations reports that more than 60 million people in North America, and 1.3 billion people world-wide live with disabilities. Including aging baby boomers this represents the world’s largest minority and one that is growing rapidly.

In Canada, it’s estimated that a staggering 9 million Canadians will have some form of disability by 2030. We need to be ready!

One of the biggest challenges for someone with a disability is accessibility in our built environment. How accessible is your local restaurant, grocery store, or transit system? Could you buy a specialized scooter or wheelchair to better access your home or neighbourhood?

The Foundation is working hard to find solutions, and your ongoing support will help break down barriers and improve accessibility.

Together, we can empower others to create a world where people living with disabilities, including paralysis after spinal cord injury, can fully participate and contribute.

Working together we will continue to create awareness about disabilities. And improve quality of life.

Your fall newsletter features stories and articles showing the positive impact of your support.

Thank you for all that you do!

Rick Hansen,
CEO, Rick Hansen Foundation






Meet a Researcher - Dr. Brian Kwon


Dr. Brian Kwon outside the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre.

"Rick was very inspirational to me as I wrapped up my residency and set off to do a PhD in spinal cord regeneration, focusing on people with chronic spinal cord injury. Rick’s a big part of the reason I’m in this field.”

Award-winning researcher Dr. Brian Kwon first became interested in spinal cord injuries during his residency at the University of British Columbia. He met many young patients whose lives had been devastated by an injury and this motivated him to pursue a career in spine surgery and a PhD in neuroscience. Deeply inspired by Rick Hansen, Dr. Kwon is now a surgeon-scientist who is focused on areas of spinal cord injury research that can translate from ‘bench-to-bedside’ and his efforts are attracting national and international attention. 

Dr. Kwon was the recipient of the 2014 J. Edouard Samson Award, the premier award for orthopaedic research in Canada, given by the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation in recognition of his body of spinal cord injury related research conducted over the last 5 years. His research, along with many of the best and brightest Canadian spinal cord injury scientists supported by the Foundation, is making it possible for more people to walk away from their injuries today than ever before. 

Currently, it can take months for a patient to know if they will be able to use their hands or walk again after sustaining a spinal cord injury. One of the goals of Dr. Kwon and his research team is to develop a tool that can predict the extent of an injury in patients within the first weeks in order to optimize their recovery. The potential implications of this work are profound and the study is now being expanded across Canada, thanks to the generosity of supporters like you.



Research and Innovation


 Blusson Spinal Cord Centre in Vancouver, BC.

Thanks to you, new research continues to revolutionize the treatment of spinal cord injury. The Rick Hansen Foundation provides essential funding to accelerate critical research through the Rick Hansen Institute, partners at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, and research centers across Canada and internationally.





Quality of Life Program

Accessible playground thanks to the Quality of Life Program.

Canadians with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities can face a number of barriers in their daily lives. Barriers might include limited access to buildings, parks, playgrounds, and lack of resources or services. To minimize or remove barriers and improve their quality of life, the Foundation manages the Quality of Life Program (QOL). Grants are provided to support individuals and community projects that improve accessibility, remove barriers, and enable Canadians with physical disabilities to participate in and contribute to their community. Children with disabilities can now join their friends at play instead of watching from afar.

There is a great need for improving accessibility. And we’re turning to supporters like you to donate to the QOL program. This year our grant budget is $100,000. To date we have received 57 applications which equals to $582,228. With your generous support, we are able to provide grants which improve the quality of life, independence, and social connection of people with disabilities.






planat™: access matters™



The Rick Hansen Foundation wants to make the world more accessible to everyone. That’s why planat was developed. planat is an online tool that allows you to search and review the accessibility of places worldwide. A new planat website will be launched soon but until then you can see what it’s all about at www.planat.com.




Mom! Let's go for a ride!





For Jazmin Pigeon's three year old daughter, her mom's new scooter doesn't represent a disability, it's a new way for her to play.

Jazmin has multiple sclerosis, causing her great difficulty walking due to weakness in her lower extremities.

"I couldn't go out anywhere, and having a three year old daughter, it was hard to keep up with her and do the things we wanted to do. It was a frustrating time." Jazmin could manage short distances from her home with the help of a walker but as a mother on a limited income, an electronic scooter was beyond her means.

She received her scooter through a Rick Hansen Foundation Quality of Life grant. "This funding has helped me with my independence. I can take my daughter to the park. I can go places without worrying as much about getting tired. I wouldn't have been able to afford this scooter without the Quality of Life grant. It has been an amazingly empowering experience. I thank the Rick Hansen Foundation whole heartedly for giving me this opportunity."

Jazmin hopes donors continue to support the Quality of Life Program. "I can be there for my daughter because of the grant. They really do make a difference for people."


Did you know?


  • More than 8 out of 10 people with disabilities use aids and assistive devices. Having the right aids can enable an individual to participate more fully in society.
  • The average cost of a manual wheelchair is $4,000 – $5,000 and the average cost of a power wheelchair is $10,000 – $15,000.




Rick Hansen School and Ambassador Programs

Children practice inclusion by participating in fun games.

Rick and the Foundation team believe deeply in the power of youth to change the world. We created the Rick Hansen School Program to ensure that future generations of young Canadians practice inclusion in their daily lives and have the key skills to make a difference in their communities. The program curriculum is free to schools across Canada. With donor and corporate support, the program reached 545,790 students last year!

­Many of our Rick Hansen Ambassadors speak to participating schools showing how each of us can overcome challenges and thrive in adversity.  

The impact of an Ambassador presentation is deeply felt, as this heartwarming message from a teacher who saw Ambassador Jessica Kruger’s presentation shows. 

“You opened the eyes of both my students and myself. Your school visits make a difference in children’s lives. You have given them a story and life lesson about strength and determination that they will never forget.”



How to help


Rick Hansen visiting children at the School Program events.

What inspires you to support the Rick Hansen Foundation? Sharing your story will help us know how supporters like you are connected to our cause.

Let us know by filling out this [EasyDNNnewsDocument|1] and sending it to us!




About the Author

Renee Eaton is the Director of Community Giving at the Rick Hansen Foundation.

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