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Wheels in motion Sunday for spinal cord research

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milina_060609People making a difference in the lives of people with spinal cord injury is the driving force behind the Comox Valley Wheels in Motion event this Sunday — and Jim Milina is the man leading that drive.

“We’re trying to come up with strategies for preventing the severity of injury in the short term,” Milina said. “And in the long term, getting people like me out of these chairs once and for all.”

Milina has been a quadriplegic since 1981 when he was injured during an indoor demonstration of freestyle skiing at a Toronto ski show. At the time, he was 18 years old and the B.C. senior men’s freestyle champion. Now, he runs his own media communications business and is an ambassador for Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion Foundation, the organization that started the event in 2003.

“A spinal cord injury is not just about the people in the wheelchairs, people like me, it’s about anybody,” said Milina. “This kind of accident can happen to anybody, at almost any time.”

He also said more than 1,100 people suffer spinal cord injury every year in Canada.

He said he hopes a breakthrough in spinal cord research could happen in the near future because so much is happening now, especially at UBC, which has one of the top research centres in the world.

Wheels in Motion raises more than $1 million across Canada. Last year, in the Comox Valley, 180 participants raised just over $10,000. Forty per cent of the money raised goes towards research, 40 per cent goes into local quality of life projects, and 20 per cent is for administration.

Last year’s proceeds purchased an Equalizer, a piece of equipment for people in wheelchairs to participate in fitness training, located at the Sports Centre on Vanier Drive in Courtenay.

This year’s quality of life project is to purchase two more pieces of fitness equipment — a hand-bike ergometer and an active-passive leg training machine — to provide more opportunities for people to work out and meet others in the community.

Comox Valley Wheels in Motion takes place Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Courtenay Airpark on 20th Street. People of all ages and abilities are welcome to walk, run, or wheel to raise awareness and donations. There are 1.9-km and a 6.6-km courses.

Pre-registration is the fastest way to sign up. Forms are available at Scotiabank locations or online at

By Kerry Hall
Record Staff Writer

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