Little Bits of History

Man In Motion World Tour

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 21, 2015
Rick Hansen *

Rick Hansen *

March 21, 1985: The Man In Motion World Tour begins. Rick Hansen was born in British Columbia, Canada in 1957. As a youth, he won all-star medals in five sports. When he was 15, he was riding in the bed of a pickup truck when it swerved and hit a tree. He was thrown from the vehicle and suffered a spinal cord injury which left him a paraplegic. He rehabilitated and finished high school. He then went on to become the first student with a physical disability to graduate in physical education from the University of British Columbia. He won national championships in wheelchair volleyball and wheelchair basketball. He went on to become a world class champion wheelchair marathoner and a Paralympic athlete. He competed in both the 1980 and 1984 Summer Paralympics and won six medals – three gold, two silver, and one bronze.

In 1980, another British Columbian athlete, Terry Fox, began the Marathon of Hope in order to raise money for cancer research. Terry hoped to run across Canada from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, but was unable to complete his quest when his cancer re-emerged. Hansen, inspired by Terry’s drive and courage, opted for a similar but far more ambitious plan to raise money for spinal cord injury research. He planned to circle the world in his wheelchair. He left from Oakridge Mall in Vancouver on this day. The team would cover over 24,000 miles through 34 countries, raising both money and awareness for people with disabilities.

Hansen averaged 30,000 strokes per day through all types of terrain and weather. Illness and injury did not stop him. He averaged about 53 miles per day with average speeds of 5.5 mph in the city and 8.5 mph in the country. The team traveling with Hansen shared a 20-foot motor home where they slept each night. They often worked 20 hours a day to keep everything moving. Over the 26 months it took to complete the journey, seventeen people helped on the road along with a Home Team to support them through it all. On April 11, 1985, Hansen wheeled across the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. He had been averaging 70 miles per day and earning $1 per mile. He was not going to raise much money.

One full year after beginning, the team had suffered 4 robberies and Hansen had made 7,180,900 wheelchair strokes. By the end of the journey, they had worn out 160 wheelchair tires. Their highest summit along the way was in the Swiss Alps and was at 5,577 feet altitude. Hansen’s most homesick moment was at the Terry Fox Garden in Jerusalem, Israel. Their biggest crowd was in Tianjin, China. They received over 200,000 letters and donations total $26 million. They arrived home to Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium on May 22, 1987. Hansen continues as a disability activist. He and his wife have three daughters. He was given the task of carrying the Olympic flame into BC Place Stadium during the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony, once again returning full circle.

I had an amazing team. They challenged, encouraged and supported me and asked nothing in return. I feel incredibly privileged to have had them with me. Without them, the dream would have been absolutely impossible. – Rick Hansen

The New Year begins with $3,000 of gear and equipment being stolen from the van, most of which was useful only to Rick. – Rick Hansen website

Rick wakes up, opening his eyes to see the interior of the motor home and tries to remember which town or even which country he is in. Tired from the rigours of the previous day including the late night public appearance, he starts to mentally prepare for another day on the road. – Richard L. Peterson

He can hear the rain drumming on the roof and the sounds of the crew stirring. His shoulders, arms and back ache from the strain of pushing his chair through the equivalent of two marathons yesterday, and he’s about to do it all over again. – Richard L. Peterson

Also on this day: Who shot JR? – In 1980, the cliffhanger ending to the season for Dallas.
Think Outside the Bun – In 1962, Taco Bell opened for business.
I Dig Rock and Roll – In 1952, the first Moondog Coronation Ball was held.
Equality – In 1960, the Sharpeville massacre took place.
Brownies – In 1961, Art Modell bought the Cleveland Browns.

* Picture by Urban Mixer

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