Welcome Rick Hansen

Our communities are getting ready to host a hero — and a medal that has travelled a long, long way.

Our communities are getting ready to host a hero — and a medal that has travelled a long, long way.

On March 25 and 26 in Williams Lake, and March 27 in 100 Mile House, we will welcome Rick Hansen on his 25th Anniversary Relay. This relay marks the silver anniversary of Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour and passes a commemorative medal among 7,000 Medal-Bearers across Canada. The Man In Motion World Tour began on March 22, 1985, when a 27-year-old paraplegic man named Rick Hansen set out on an journey to travel the world by wheelchair. His goal was to raise awareness and promote accessibility and inclusivity for people with spinal cord injuries. For 26 months, Hansen and his team travelled more than 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries. On average, Hansen wheeled the equivalent of two marathons and eight hours a day. In the end, the tour raised $26 million for the cause; $20 million of this was raised in Canada alone.

Rick Hansen’s 25th Anniversary Relay retraces the Canadian portion of his route, and we are happy to welcome the relay members to B.C. as they near the end of the relay. Our region has a special connection with Hansen — he grew up in Williams Lake. So with open arms, we welcome him home. On March 25, the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex in Williams Lake will host celebrations with local musicians and a family barbecue, and the next day a monument to Hansen will be unveiled at the Tourism Discovery Centre. On March 27, the South Cariboo Recreation Centre in 100 Mile House will feature interactive karaoke and a sledge hockey game at their festivities.

Hansen is nothing short of an inspirational Canadian who has committed his life to supporting people with spinal cord injuries. Among other projects, he has established research institutes and networks, school programs and grants, and the Rick Hansen Foundation, which has invested nearly $252 million toward spinal cord research, accessibility projects, and quality of life initiatives. His legacy has impacted an immeasurable number of people’s lives, and he continues to share his belief with the world that “anything is possible.”

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.