CBC Digital Archives

1987: Rick Hansen completes his Man in Motion tour

They said it couldn't be done, but Rick Hansen defied all the odds. The long, gruelling hours. Bitter cold and oppressive humidity. The numbing pain that shot through his arms and shoulders at the end of the day. But nothing stopped Hansen as he circled the world in his wheelchair for over two years to raise awareness and money for spinal cord research. And even when the tour was over he kept going, a man in perpetual motion.

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 Rick Hansen raises his arms skyward as he crosses the finish line to complete his Man in Motion world tour in Vancouver. Two years after the paraplegic athlete embarked on his marathon wheelchair expedition to raise money for spinal research and outreach, he's thrilled to be back home. "I just want to thank you for believing in the potential of disabled persons," an emotional Hansen tells his cheering supporters in this clip from CBC-TV.

• Rick Hansen, who was born in Port Alberni, B.C., in 1957, lost the use of his legs after a 1973 car accident. The former high school athlete didn't let his wheelchair get in the way of attaining a degree in physical education from the University of British Columbia.
• Hansen went on to excel in wheelchair sports. In 1983, he placed second in the wheelchair division at the 1983 Boston Marathon, and he also won titles in wheelchair basketball and volleyball.

• Inspired by his friend Terry Fox, whose 1980 Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research, Hansen launched his own fundraising event in 1985 - the Man in Motion World Tour.
• Hansen's journey began from a Vancouver shopping mall in March 1985. His goal was to raise $10 million for spinal-cord research and raise public awareness about people with disabilities.

• From the outset, Hansen's target was to wheel through nations around the globe and reach a total of 40,073 kilometres - the equivalent of the earth's circumference.
• The tour took Hansen to 34 countries on four continents. He wheeled on the Great Wall of China and met Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.
• In August 1986, he landed back in Canada, taking off from Cape Spear, N.L., and continuing across the country.

• Hansen was the subject of a song, Man in Motion, written by Canadian composer David Foster for the movie St. Elmo's Fire. The song went on to become the theme for Hansen's tour.
• The tour lasted 792 days - two years, two months and two days. Hansen wheeled an average of 50 to 70 kilometres every day.

• While on the road, Hansen wrote 2,172 postcards, wore out 160 wheelchair tires and 94 gloves, and was robbed four times.
• The Man In Motion World Tour raised $26 million, far exceeding the $10 million that Hansen had originally wanted to raise.
• By 2006, the Man in Motion Foundation had raised more than $178 million for spinal cord injury programs and initiatives.

• Hansen married his physiotherapist, Amanda Reid, in October 1987. They have three daughters.
• Hansen was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 1987 and received the Order of British Columbia in 1990.
• In 2003, Hansen launched Wheels in Motion, an annual walk/run/wheel event in which people in towns and cities across Canada raise money for people with spinal cord injuries.

Also on May 22:
1611: The first Jesuits arrived at Port Royal in New France.
1893: The Montreal Amateur Athletic Association beats the visiting Ottawa Generals 2-1 in the first Stanley Cup game.
1963: A NATO ministerial conference in Ottawa approves in principle the formation of a nuclear strike force under NATO direction.
1979: The Progressive Conservatives under Joe Clark win a federal election, ending the 11-year tenure of Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
1990: Environment Minister Lucien Bouchard quits the Progressive Conservative caucus. He later forms the separatist Bloc Québécois, then serves as premier under the Parti Québécois from 1996 until 2001.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 22, 1987
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Jane Chalmers
Duration: 3:09

Last updated: January 31, 2012

Page consulted on October 2, 2014

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