The end of the Man in Motion World Tour just the beginning for Rick Hansen
When Rick Hansen completed his Man in Motion World Tour 25 years ago he didn’t realize the end was just the beginning.
“I had no idea because I was so immersed in one stroke of the wheelchair at a time and my goal was to have an impact . . . but I couldn’t really understand or fathom the kind of impact,” Hansen tells CTV.ca in a recent interview.
“I thought my contribution would be over at the end of the tour but little did I know that it was just the beginning and it changed my life.”
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his tour, and to mark the end of a cross-country relay that had 7,000 people re-tracing the Canadian segment of Hansen’s journey, a star-studded concert event will be broadcast Sunday, June 24 at 7 p.m. ET on CTV.
“Rick Hansen: A Concert for Heroes,” which will also honour extraordinary Canadians who are making a difference in the lives of others, will be hosted by TSN’s Michael Landsberg and E!’s Leah Miller and feature performances by Sarah McLachlan, Johnny Reid, Jann Arden, Marianas Trench and David Foster with the Canadian Tenors and Sean Jones.
It will also include appearances by environmentalist David Suzuki and Free The Children founder Craig Kielburger.
“The level of entertainment at this event is going to be spectacular and it makes us realize that we can all come together on the things we value most and I think that’s in many ways kind of a pathway on my journey.”
Hansen, who became paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident at the age of 15, set out on the Man in Motion World Tour in 1985, and proved people with disabilities aren’t limited. He wheeled 40,000 km across 34 countries over 26 consecutive months and raised $26 million along the way.
After completing the tour, he formed the Rick Hansen Foundation, which has turned the original funds into approximately $250 million towards spinal cord research and accessibility projects.
Hansen re-visited many of these stops on the original tour as part of the nine-month anniversary relay to cheer on the 7,000 Canadians, something that definitely brought back a lot of memories.
“(It was just) that sense of nostalgia about the beginning of the home stretch, after having been on the road for over a year and a half in 33 countries and now back to my home country. Just feeling the sense of warm welcoming, the enthusiasm, the identification that the dream was starting to unfold in some amazing ways, not just in terms of awareness, but real action and also funds being raised.”
Hansen says in the past 25 years, the recovery rate for people with spinal cord injuries has grown significantly.
“We hear stories constantly of people who are actually walking away and having full recovery and also we hear of people who maybe have small levels of recovery, sensation in their legs, movement of their hands, incomplete injuries that perhaps 25 years ago that would’ve left them with permanent paralysis right at the sight of their injury with no further recovery.”
With new research being developed all the time, Hansen says a cure, or a series of cures, is now in the realm of possibility.
“In the next 10-15 years, you’re going to see amazing progress and in 25 years, it’s just possible that every newly injured person will have the chance to have a full recovery.”
He adds that major centers from around the world will need to work together to make this happen, which includes sharing knowledge and collaborating on major multi-centre clinical trials.
“That’s what the Rick Hansen Institute is doing, is trying to kind of create that leadership, fill that leadership gap and help lay in the platforms for collaboration and provide resources so we can get there faster.”
About Sheri Block
Sheri Block has been covering entertainment for CTV.ca since 2008. In addition to covering Will and Kate’s Royal Wedding in London, Sheri’s highlights have included going on tour with “Canadian Idol,” being a stand-in on “Canada’s Next Top Model” and meeting Colin Farrell at the Toronto International Film Festival.Follow her on Twitter!