Written by the Rick Hansen Foundation
Rick Hansen was born August 26, 1957 in Port Alberni and grew up in Fort St. John, Abbotsford and Williams Lake, B.C. A natural athlete, he was very passionate about fishing and sports.
When Rick was 15, his life changed forever. He and his friend Don Alder were riding in the back of a pickup truck, returning home from a week-long fishing trip. The truck went off the steep, winding road, and Rick and Don were thrown out of the back. Rick sustained a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down. He would never walk again.
After seven months of rehabilitation in Vancouver, Rick had to learn how to deal with his new life, which was full of challenges. With determination, a sense of humour and a lot of heart, he found a way to keep doing the things he loved. He kept fishing, discovered wheelchair basketball and other sports, set new goals for his life ... and began to make new dreams.
An Internationally Celebrated Athletic Career
Rick was recruited by coach and mentor, Stan Stronge, to join the Vancouver Cablecars wheelchair basketball team. During that time, Rick met Terry Fox and invited him to play wheelchair basketball. They shared a close friendship, a passion for sports and a commitment to making a difference.
In 1976, Rick enrolled at the University of British Columbia, and became the first person with a disability to graduate with a degree in Physical Education.
Between 1979 and 1984, Rick turned his focus to track and marathoning, winning nineteen 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, and gold, silver and bronze at the 1980 Paralympic Summer Games in Arnhem, Holland. He also competed for Canada in the 1984 Olympic Games in wheelchair track, as an exhibition sport, and was the first person to break the two-hour time record in a wheelchair marathon.
Beyond the spirit of competition, Rick firmly believes sport has the ability to bridge divides and inspire youth while creating healthy and inclusive communities. Today, Rick is proud to support wheelchair and adapted sport in Canada. Through mentorship and encouragement, people of all ages will have the power to become the best that they can be.
Rick Hansen (left) competing against fellow Canadian Mel Fitzgerald
The Man in Motion World Tour
With nothing but a vision, a trailer and a passionate team of supporters, Rick pushed his wheelchair out of Vancouver, B.C., on March 22, 1985, to set out on a journey that would make history. The Man In Motion World Tour was fueled by two big dreams: to prove the potential of people with disabilities and to make communities more accessible and inclusive. Rick and his team traveled through 34 countries: they crossed the United States, wheeled through Britain and Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand, Australia, and the Far East before returning to North America on May 22, 1987. The Tour raised $26 million and became a catalyst for enormous change in the way people with disabilities were perceived.
Rick Hansen on the Man in Motion World Tour
Rick Hansen is Founder & CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation and a passionate advocate for people with disabilities in Canada and around the world. As well as being a celebrated Paralympic athlete, Rick is best known as the “Man In Motion,” for his epic two-year wheelchair trip around the world to prove the potential of people with disabilities.
Since the Man In Motion World Tour, Rick has dedicated his life to creating a world that is accessible and inclusive for all by removing barriers for people with disabilities. Rick and his team at the Foundation are working hard to change attitudes, create accessible spaces and liberate the amazing potential of people with disabilities.
Rick and his wife, Amanda, live in Steveston, B.C. and have three beautiful daughters, Rebecca, Alana and Emma. Amanda is a physiotherapist who worked with Rick when he was a competitive athlete and she accompanied Rick on the Man In Motion World Tour. She is now a member of the Board of Directors of the Rick Hansen Foundation.