Williams Lake’s final medal bearer for the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Tour is getting ready for the big day.
Speaking from his home in Horsefly, Bruce MacLeod says the first time he saw Hansen was when he was letting the world know that he was planning to wheelchair around the world.
“He was in Mike Harcourt’s office when Mike was the mayor of Vancouver and he was announcing his goal to the world,” MacLeod recalls.
Hansen had a huge gold fish bowl in his lap and Harcourt put some cash in the bowl.
“Rick was announcing his goal and it was outrageous. I remember thinking for a man to do something like that and put it all on the line before he’s even done it is huge,” MacLeod says.
Throughout the 25th anniversary tour, MacLeod has watched some of the footage on the Internet and continues to be impressed.
“I watched the relay as it arrived in Calgary.
“They’ve sure been out there in the cold weather,” he adds.
Voicing his admiration for Hansen, MacLeod says he did something no one else is ever going to do.
“Try and do that today, with security and all, it wouldn’t work,” MacLeod says of the original Man in Motion World Tour.
MacLeod says he is putting the final touches on his three-minute speech, and he’s a bit nervous because giving speeches is not something he does much of these days.
“I’m usually the guy in the back room, putting the right people together or making suggestions,” he says.
This will be the second time MacLeod’s spoken to a large crowd. When he was in college, he was invited to the Robson Media Centre.
“I was living on Vancouver Island at the time and I went over on the ferry, got in there, had a speech prepared, but when I got up on the stage and there was all the bright lights, I was like a deer in the headlights,” he recalls.
Hopefully this time around, he’ll be at ease because he will be among people he knows.
Amongst the crowd on Sunday will be MacLeod’s two grandsons who are coming up for the event from Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
“I’ll at least know someone,” he says, chuckling.
The Man in Motion 25th Anniversary Tour takes place in Williams Lake at the Cariboo Memorial Complex on Sunday, March 25.
With an End of Day Celebration beginning at 4 p.m. at the Cariboo Memorial Complex, locals and visitors will enjoy a traditional First Nations welcome and smudging, entertainment, a family barbecue, and a celebration cake.
The line-up of entertainment includes the Cariboo Men’s Choir, Robyn Ferguson, LeRae Haynes and friends, Cindy Lightfoot and friends, and Don Alder. At 5:30 p.m. the official speeches will begin, and Miss Canada International Anna Dell will sing the national anthem.
Of course, the height of the event will be when Hansen addresses the crowd.
By the time Hansen arrives in Williams Lake, the tour will have spanned almost 12,000 kilometres and involved 7,000 Canadians who have made a difference.
Several other people from Williams Lake and area are medal bearers and can be seen throughout the city before MacLeod reaches the complex.
On Monday, March 26 Hansen will visit Columneetza Secondary School — his former high school. Then, at 11 a.m., the Rick Hansen Man in Motion World Tour commemorative statue will be unveiled at the Tourism Discovery Centre.
On Tuesday, the relay will continue south to 150 Mile House.