Rick Hansen received an enthusiastic welcome during a visit to Mountview Elementary School Tuesday.
As they stood in front of a large painted sign mounted on the gym wall that read “Mountview Welcomes Our Hero Rick Hansen,” the students looked toward the doorway and yelled out their welcome.
With the theme song to the “Man in Motion tour” echoing through the gym, Hansen wheeled in and circled around the room, greeting the students.
“One of my favourite things about coming home to Williams Lake is visiting the schools,” Hansen smiled.
Sharing some photographs of himself growing up, he told the students he was always on an adventure.
“I loved fishing and camping and had dreams about sports,” he told the students.
When he had his accident and broke his back, he thought his dreams and hopes were shattered, he said.
Then he discovered with a wheelchair he could get back in motion, and that realization evolved into a journey around the world, where he raised $26 million.
“When I look to the future I believe my Man in Motion tour was just the beginning,” Hansen said. “We still have a long way to go to continue to remove barriers so that people with disabilities can be like anyone else.”
His vision, he told the students, is a world where everyone is working together to help others.
Principal Rick Miller thanked Hansen for opening their hearts and imaginations as to how they can make a difference.
“I don’t think anyone else can say they wheeled 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries for other people,” Miller said.
Hansen was presented a large card signed by all the students and a wooden tree carved by Pioneer Log Homes Ltd.
When Hansen visited Ms. Peel’s Grade 4 classroom the students asked him about funding opportunities because they want to raise money to buy a wheelchair swing for Sae Fisher, one of the students in the school.
“Your swing project is a great idea,” Hansen told the students and encouraged them to keep in touch with him through e-mail about the project.
Hansen spent Monday visiting family, and also visited students at Chilcotin Road Elementary School on Tuesday.
“It is always great to have a chance to come to Williams Lake,” he said.
Hansen told the students to keep an eye out for an upcoming episode of the Mercer Report in which he will be sturgeon fishing with Rick Mercer.