Hansen announces $200-million global initiative for spinal-cord research

Published: March 21, 2010  |  Source: montrealgazette.com
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VANCOUVER — Rick Hansen is a man on the move again.

On Sunday, the 25th anniversary of the start of his Man in Motion World Tour, Hansen launched another global adventure in his quest to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

This time, he’s set the goal of raising $200 million for spinal-cord research, within the 26 months it took him to circle the globe in his wheelchair.

The fundraising drive through the new Rick Hansen Institute will end in Vancouver on May 22, 2012, the day Hansen completed the tour back in 1987.

“What better way to celebrate the 25th anniversary than to launch the greatest challenge yet?” Hansen said in Vancouver. “It’s an amazing, enormous challenge.”

The money raised will go toward spinal-cord injury care and research, around the world.

Hansen said he’ll be returning to some of the 34 countries he wheeled through 25 years ago, a trip that will include sites such as the Great Wall of China.

“I look forward to going back to China,” he mused. “Great Wall? Well, we’ll see how we do it, whether we go up or down.”

The campaign will wind up with a cross-Canada tour, ending in a global conference on a spinal-cord cure and accessibility in Vancouver.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the federal government will donate $13.5 million to Hansen’s global foundation over the next three years.

“Rick lifted spirits, he raised millions for research, but true to form, he didn’t rest on his tremendous accomplishment. He wanted to do more, and so he has,” said Harper. “The Rick Hansen Institute, the culmination of a quarter-century-old dream, will set us on the road home, to maximizing the quality of life for those living with disabilities, and discovering a cure for spinal-cord injuries.”

The B.C. government is pitching in with $25 million over the next seven years.

“He reminds people that whatever we decide we want to do, and we dream we can do, we should pursue that dream, regardless of the obstacles, keep at it,” said Premier Gordon Campbell, who’s known Hansen for 25 years.

“He’s created magic in the lives of people that he will never know, all around the world, just because of the power of his dream, and his commitment to follow it relentlessly.”

“If they ever put the word ‘relentless’ in the dictionary, Rick Hansen’s going to be right beside it.”

Hansen has already raised $26 million from the Man in Motion tour, and a total of $200 million for spinal cord research over the past 25 years.

Hansen’s wife, Amanda, who Rick credited as his champion for the past 25 years, said she has no doubts he will accomplish his newest goal.

“Rick has worked so hard to become so clear on what needs to be done next,” she said. “You feel that it’s just a given that this is going to happen, it’s going to go well, it’s going to reap benefits and results.”

“As hard as it’s been to get to this point, and as hard as it will be to get to the next step, it just seems so natural. It’s time. We’re ready.”

Beginning in March 1985 in Vancouver, Hansen crossed the globe by wheelchair to raise money for spinal-cord research.

Over 26 months, he travelled more than 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries on four continents.

Vancouver Province

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By John Bermingham, Vancouver Province