On today’s date in 1987, Rick Hansen, of Williams Lake, B.C., accomplished the first world tour by wheelchair.
Ending his “Man in Motion” tour after 792 days – 467 of which were spent on the road – Hansen raised $26 million for spinal cord research and people with disabilities.
Altogether, he pumped his wheelchair 3,600 times an hour for 26 months as he travelled 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries and wore out 117 tires and 11 pairs of gloves.
INSPIRED BY TERRY FOX
In 1980, fellow British Columbia athlete Terry Fox, who had recently lost his leg to bone cancer, undertook his “Marathon of Hope” with the intention of running across Canada – from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island – to raise awareness for cancer research.
Fox made it from St. John’s, N.L., to Thunder Bay, Ont., before his cancer returned and forced him to stop about halfway through his journey.
Inspired by Fox’s courage, Hansen decided to undertake a similar journey for spinal cord injury research. His plan was similarly ambitious—he wanted to cross the world in his wheelchair.
Hansen embarked on his Man in Motion world tour on March 21, 1985, from Vancouver’s Oakridge Mall and quickly attracted international media attention as he progressed on his 26-month voyage. He returned to Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium on May 22, 1987, raising $26 million for spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives.
Like Fox, Hansen is considered an international hero.
2012 ‘MAN IN MOTION’ COIN
In 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint commemorated Hansen on a $5 Fine silver coin to mark the 25th anniversary of his Man in Motion tour.
The majority of the coin’s field is filled with finely engraved lines to represent Hansen overcoming the limiting perceptions of physical disability and his key principles—“journey, inspire, dream, together, involvement,” and of course, “anything is possible.”
With a mintage of 7,500 pieces, the coin has a weight of 23.17 grams and a diameter of 36.07 millimetres.