From 1985 to 1987, Rick Hansen was the Man In Motion, circumnavigating the globe to raise awareness and funds for spinal cord injury research, rehabilitation and wheelchair sport. His journey covered over 40,000 kilometres, 34 countries and four continents, raising an incredible $26.1 million.
But while the trip ended in Vancouver, the Man In Motion never really stopped. Over the years Rick Hansen has been a tireless advocate and fundraiser for spinal cord research, even though he has said theres little chance that any current or future medical advancements could improve his own disability.
A few years ago, Hansens foundation started the Wheels In Motion event, inviting communities across Canada to participate by hosting walk, ride and wheel events. All the proceeds from these events would be split evenly, with half the money going towards the foundation and half staying in the community to fund rehabilitation, access, and sports for disabled Canadians. The third anniversary of this event is this Sunday, June 12. In B.C. alone there are 46 communities participating and Whistler is one of them. Across Canada, which has been slower to pick up the event, there are over 200 events.
The Whistler event is based out of Meadow Park, with registration at 10 a.m. and the main event taking place at 11 a.m. Participants will run, walk, or wheel to the Rainbow Park and back, where they will enjoy a barbecue, music and other entertainment.
Tyler Mosher, a local ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation and a victim of a past spinal cord injury, is urging people to come out and support a growing cause.
"I know Rick Hansen is hoping to go even further with this and make it an international event," said Mosher. "He has always believed that anything is possible in a wheelchair and in the world.
"Raising money is important, but so is raising awareness. The goal is to make spinal cord injuries more visible, as well as the real possibility it can be beaten with research, rehabilitation and positive living.
"The money is not only going to improve access and the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries, but also to the belief that spinal cord injury will be preventable and reparable in the near future."
Mosher, who is hoping to make the Paralympic cross-country ski team for 2010, will be taking part in the event on his roller skis. Hand pedaled bikes will also be taking part, as well as skateboards, wheelchairs, bicycles, and more "anything on wheels," said Mosher. People can also run and walk the distance, which is about seven kilometres.
In past years, funds raised at the Whistler Wheels In Motion have gone towards the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program. This year the funding will likely go towards accessibility in the village, although the exact projects have yet to be chosen.
For more information on the Man In Motion event, visit www.maninmotion.org.