Thursday, 20 March 2014
Richard Marvin Hansen (born 26 August 1957) is a Canadian Paralympian and a philanthropist for people with spinal cord injuries. Hansen is most famous for his Man In Motion World Tour. He was one of the final torchbearers in the 2010 Winter Olympics. He was profiled and spoke during the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Paralympics.
Born in Port Alberni, British Columbia, Rick Hansen grew up in Williams Lake, British Columbia. As a young athlete, he had won all-star awards in five sports. He was paralyzed at the age of 15 from being in the back of a truck with his friend, when suddenly the pick up truck swerved and hit a tree. He left the bed of the truck from the impact and received a spinal cord injury. He worked on rehabilitation, completed high school, then became the first student with a physical disability to graduate in physical education from the University of British Columbia.
Hansen won national championships on wheelchair volleyball and wheelchair basketball teams. He went on to become a world class champion wheelchair marathoner and Paralympic athlete. He competed in wheelchair racing at both the 1980 and 1984 Summer Paralympics, winning a total of three gold, two silver, and one bronze medal. Hansen won 19 international wheelchair marathons, including three world championships. He also coached high school basketball and volleyball. Hansen had a very close relationship with his family, especially with his father and grandfather, with whom he enjoyed frequent fishing trips.
In 1980, fellow British Columbian and Canadian athlete Terry Fox, who had lost a leg to bone cancer, undertook the Marathon of Hope, intending to run across Canada from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island to raise awareness for cancer research. He made it from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Thunder Bay, Ontario, before a cancer recurrence forced him to stop, about half of the way through his journey. Inspired by Terry's courage, Hansen decided to undertake a similar journey for spinal cord injury research. But his planned path was far more ambitious: he planned to circle the world in his wheelchair.
He embarked on his Man in Motion World Tour on 21 March 1985 from Oakridge Mall in Vancouver. He progressed on a 26-month trek, logging more than 40,000 km through 34 countries on four continents before crossing Canada. He returned to Vancouver's BC Place Stadium to cheering crowds of thousands on 22 May 1987 after raising $26 million for spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives. Like Terry Fox, he was hailed as an international hero. He was profiled and spoke during the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Paralympics. Today, the wheelchair and many other items associated with the Man In Motion World Tour are preserved by the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
Heart of a Dragon is the film based on Hansen's Man in Motion Tour. Over twenty years ago, Michael French flew with a film crew from Vancouver, British Columbia to Beijing and documented Hansen's entrance into Beijing with over 1 million Chinese heralding his arrival as a hero. The song "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" was written in his honor by Canadian record producer and composer David Foster and British musician John Parr and performed by Parr for the soundtrack of the film St. Elmo's Fire. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in theUnited States in September 1985.