Moderated by Brian Kwon, MedRes’00, PhD’04 – Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Injury; Professor, Department of Orthopaedics, UBC; Associate Director, Clinical Research, ICORD; Chair of Cure Committee, Rick Hansen Institute
Through the power of his own story and the inspiration he’s found in others, Rick Hansen encourages us all to dream big and make a difference in our own lives and in the world. Rick challenges audiences to check their own attitudes and question the barriers to success that hold them back from reaching their full potential.
Rick Hansen provided The Last Word in the February 2016 online issue of Trek Magazine.
Rick Hansen, BPE’86, LLD’87 – CEO, Rick Hansen Foundation
Rick Hansen is a Canadian icon who has dedicated his life to creating a world that is accessible and inclusive for all. Best known as the “Man In Motion” for undertaking an epic two-year circumnavigation around the world in his wheelchair, Rick is also a four-time world champion, nine-time Pan Am gold medalist, and three-time Paralympic gold medalist. Now the CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to creating a world without barriers for people with disabilities, Rick and his team work hard to change attitudes, create accessible spaces and liberate the amazing potential of people with disabilities.
When Rick was 15, his life changed forever. Returning home from a week-long fishing trip, Rick was thrown from the back of a pick-up truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. His new reality came with a lot of challenges, but with determination, a sense of humour and a lot of heart, he found a way to keep doing the things he loved, and began to make new dreams.
In 1976, Rick enrolled at the University of British Columbia, becoming the first person with a disability to graduate with a degree in Physical Education. Between 1979 and 1984, Rick turned his focus to track and marathoning, winning nineteen wheelchair marathons, the world title three times and nine gold medals at the 1982 Pan Am Games. He won two gold medals and one silver at the 1984 Paralympic Summer Games in Stoke Mandeville, and gold, silver and bronze at the 1980 Paralympic Summer Games in Arnhem, Holland. He also competed for Canada in the 1984 Olympic Games in wheelchair track, as an exhibition sport, and was the first person to break the two-hour time record in a wheelchair marathon.
With nothing but a vision, a trailer and a passionate team of supporters, Rick pushed his wheelchair out of Vancouver on March 22, 1985, to set out on a journey that would make history. The Man In Motion World Tour was fueled by two big dreams: to prove the potential of people with disabilities and to make communities more accessible and inclusive. Rick and his team traveled through 34 countries, wheeling through the United States, Britain and Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand, Australia, and the Far East, before returning to North America on May 22, 1987. The Tour raised $26 million and became a catalyst for enormous change in the way people with disabilities were perceived.
The Rick Hansen Foundation was established in 1988, following the completion of the Tour, to continue raising funds and awareness to create a world without barriers for people with disabilities. The Foundation works diligently to achieve real change through collaboration, partnerships and teamwork.
Rick is the recipient of many awards and honours, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal; the Christopher Reeve Award; the CPA Alberta Canada’s Walk of Fame award; Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame – William Van Horne Visionary Award; the Athlete of the Century award from British Columbia Wheelchair Sports, and the Companion of the Order of Canada.
Rick and his wife Amanda live in Steveston, B.C. and have three beautiful daughters, Rebecca, Alana and Emma.
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