Man in Motion | Champion for Accessibility and Inclusion
Rick Hansen, C.C., O.B.C., is a Canadian icon who has dedicated his life to awakening the world to the potential of people with disabilities. He is best known as the “Man in Motion” for undertaking an epic 26-month, 40,000 km journey around the world in his wheelchair. Now the Founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to creating a world without barriers for people with disabilities, Hansen uses his presentations to challenge everyone to become a difference maker and a legacy leaver.
When Hansen was 15, his life changed forever. On the way home from a fishing trip, he was in a car accident and thrown from the back of a pickup truck. Hansen injured his spinal cord and was 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, Hansen 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, Hansen turned his focus to track and marathoning, winning 19 international 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, UK, and gold, silver, and bronze at the 1980 Paralympic Summer Games in Arnhem, Holland.
As a young athlete in a wheelchair, Hansen had a vision to show the world that anything is possible. On March 21, 1985, Hansen pushed his wheelchair out of Vancouver, to set out on a journey that would make history. The Man in Motion World Tour was fueled by Hansen’s two dreams: a world without barriers for people with disabilities and a cure for paralysis after spinal cord injury. Over two years, two months, and two days, with nothing but a trailer and a passionate team of supporters, Hansen traveled across 34 countries, wheeling 40,072 kilometres before returning to Vancouver on May 22, 1987. The Tour raised $26 million and marked the beginning of an ultramarathon of social change. It altered attitudes and created a more positive image of people with disabilities.
Following the completion of the Man in Motion World Tour, the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) was established in 1988. For more than three decades, RHF has raised awareness, changed attitudes, and funded spinal cord injury research and care. The Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) is the only program that rates, certifies, and showcases accessible buildings.
Hansen is the recipient of many accolades and notable achievements the Lou Marsh Trophy for Outstanding Athlete of the Year (an honour he shared with Wayne Gretzky in 1983); induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame; Honourary Colonel of the Joint Personnel Unit of the Canadian Armed Forces; torchbearer of the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games; Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal; Ambassador of the 2017 Invictus Games; and the Order of Canada.