Down the road from now, perhaps for many years, Kane Fraser hopes what he and his team do this coming November will be remembered.
A husband, a father of four, a chartered accountant, an outdoorsman and a friend to many, Fraser became paralyzed from the waist down when a car accident 13 years ago changed his life forever.
Now, receiving motivation from another Williams Lake legend, Rick Hansen, the 37-year-old hopes to use his disability to inspire possibilities.
Fraser, along with a team of friends and professionals, will race this year’s Baja 1000, one of the most dangerous off-road races in the world held annually at Mexico’s Baja-California Peninsula.
Coinciding with Hansen’s 25th anniversary of his Man in Motion World Tour, Fraser also hopes to raise $25,000 for the Rick Hansen Foundation — $1,000 for every year that has passed since, from one “small-town boy” to another.
Additionally Fraser wants to create awareness of people with disabilities, as well as inspire at least one person with a disability to achieve a goal they didn’t think was possible.
But it wasn’t always going to be like this.
Fraser said it was December of last year, while recovering from a broken femur following a sledding accident, when he and his wife, Cara Fraser, decided it would be best for the family if he slowed down a bit.
The slowing down, however, didn’t last long.
“Just after we talked about that I was recovering on the couch watching Dust to Glory (a documentary about the Baja 1000) when I decided, I’ve got to race the Baja,” he said. “She immediately said no, and wasn’t too keen on the idea, at all.”
One month earlier, on Nov. 20, Fraser had the opportunity to go sturgeon fishing with Hansen, coincidentally his sister-in-law’s uncle, on the Fraser River.
“That week he’d been in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, and I thought it was pretty good of him to take us fishing with him,” Fraser said.
“He started telling us about the 25th anniversary tour, which was quite interesting.”
Enter Heino Seibert, one of Fraser’s close friends and owner of Spectra Power Sports Ltd. in Williams Lake.
“I said, ‘Heino, I’d like to race the Baja,’” Fraser said. “Heino said, ‘Sounds like an idea to me. How can we help?’
“A couple of weeks later my wife asked again if I was serious about doing this. We talked about doing the fundraiser for the Rick Hansen Foundation and after that she was on board.”
From there, Fraser and Seibert assembled a team of 11 more individuals of varying backgrounds and skill sets who will travel with them to Mexico for the race.
First, they decided on a vehicle to race in Mexico — the Polaris RZR 900 XP, a racing all-terrain vehicle.
Now, Heino, Rick Seibert and a few other team members are busy making modifications, such as rebuilding the vehicle’s frame, adding new lights, installing hand controls and installing a radio communication system, for examples, to ensure the unit meets the Baja 1000 sanctioning body’s (SCORE) safety code.
The work, all parties say, hasn’t been easy and will continue to be time consuming. To date, more than 200 hours of work has been put into the unit, with countless more work still to be done.
In the Baja 1000, vehicles of all types are set loose on the sand-covered course, which is around 1,000 miles and takes about 30 hours to complete with a team of alternating drivers. Fraser’s team will be entered in the Class 18 — Sportsman UTV class.
Fraser, along with Heino, will be the primary driver and co-driver. Rick Seibert, Paul Marcotte and Roger Patenaude will drive as back up drivers.
“One thing I decided early on, finishing the race means winning the race to me,” Fraser said. “I do not need to beat anyone. I can cross dead last as long as I at least cross in the allotted time and in one piece.
“As far as we know no paraplegic has ever started or finished the Baja 1000.”
The team name chosen, These Guys, speaks volumes about what they hope to accomplish, he said.
“I would like people to tell a story about ‘These Guys’ who did the Baja 1000 without ever entering any other off road race and, oh yeah, the driver was in a wheelchair, a paraplegic,” Fraser said. “This might seem insignificant, but I am hoping other disabled people will hear this … and they will draw strength from the story.”
If anyone is interested in helping Fraser and his team reach their goal of raising $25,000 there are two ways to do so.
First, you can visit the website at www.baja1000fundraiser.com to donate directly to the Rick Hansen Foundation by clicking donate at the top of the page. Or you can pledge the team $1 for every mile they travel during the race.
“The greatest compliment I have received from my friends, colleagues and clients is, ‘We often forget you are in a wheelchair,’” Fraser said.
“I would like other disabled people to receive this as well.”