Nfld. & Labrador

Rick Hansen set to start cross-Canada relay near St. John's

Rick Hansen, a wheelchair athlete well known for his Man in Motion campaign to help people with spinal cord injuries, is heading to Cape Spear, N.L., to begin a cross-Canada relay to mark the 25th anniversary of his journey around the world in a wheelchair.
Rick Hansen marked the anniversary of his worldwide tour by helping to start a new cross-Canada relay, the CBC's Vik Adhopia reports 2:11

A wheelchair athlete – well known for his "Man in Motion" campaign to help people with spinal cord injuries – is heading to Cape Spear, N.L., to begin a cross-Canada relay to mark the 25th anniversary of his journey around the world in a wheelchair.

Rick Hansen's relay is expected to include 7,000 people who will each carry the Rick Hansen Medal for a short distance before passing it on to another person.

Participants will pass through more than 600 communities during the nine-month, 12,000-kilometre journey, which is scheduled to start Wednesday and finish in Vancouver on May 22, 2012.

Hansen, 53, suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury in a pickup truck crash when he was 15.

More than a decade later, in 1985, he began his Man in Motion world tour and wheeled more than 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries.

Canadian wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen at the opening ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. ((Jerry Lampen/Reuters))

He returned to his native British Columbia May 1987 after raising $26 million for spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives.

Since then, the Rick Hansen Foundation has generated more than $200 million for quality of life projects, awareness programs and research.

N.L. Premier Kathy Dunderdale is scheduled to speak at the launch of the relay.