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1987: Rick Hansen completes his Man in Motion tour

The Story


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.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 22, 1987
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Jane Chalmers
Duration: 3:09

Did You know?


• 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.


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