Downtown, South corner of arena on Pacific Blvd; at base of stairs
If I had the chance right now to erase all of it,
to start over again hitchhiking home
from a fishing trip with Don in the back
of that pick-up truck and not have the
accident happen. If I could just pick up
my life at that point as opposed to living
the life I’ve lived since. I wouldn’t take it.
For the next months I lay in a
Stryker frame bolted tightly between
two hard narrow bed pads which rotated
in the middle of a large, metal framework
I was unable to move. For the first time
in my life I was alone and absolutely
helpless...One night I lay sweating...
my head pounding...my back on fire with
pain. I wanted everything to be over. At
that moment my life seemed worthless.
two more skids...tipping
no...can’t ...pain....I can’t move
At the age of 15 I was athlete of the year
at my High School. It was June 27 1973.
My friend and I were hitchhiking back
from fishing when we caught a ride with
a guy in a pick-up.
a man came alongside me in a red
convertible. “I hear you were a good
athlete. Why not get back in a little
competition?” He had his own wheelchair
in the back seat....Stan Stronge, a
pioneer in wheelchair sports, recipient of
the Order of Canada, a friend who changed
my life by being there for me, he helped
me realize the value of helping others.
Then in 1980 Terry Fox came striding along
on a prosthetic leg with his Marathon of
Hope. I watched how people responded
to him and later after his death, how they
continued to honor his spirit. They
acknowledged how much good can come
from one young man and a dream. In a world
in which people with disabilities felt
invisible Terry Fox made people see the
invisible. I decided Terry’s theme to
raise awareness would be the focus of
my wheelchair journey around the world.
When I come back and it’s all over
I want to be able to wake up ...see
a picture of me in the wheelchair,
sitting on the Great Wall of China.
Amanda is the reason I am
on the road, she has taken
tremendous reception everywhere
between Split and Dubrovnik, the
best in any country to date....
climbing a steep hill I was followed
until dark by about a hundred
People don’t understand what the tour
is about yet, even most of us who were
on it. Rick was off in right field with his
reality which was the pursuit and the
the preservation of his dream. We were in left
field with our own reality, the day to day grind
working in the outside world to make it as
easy as possible for him to do that and
somehow we all had to get together in the
to see the little kids in their
chairs with the fire in their
eyes ... it touched all of us
incredible things were starting to happen
the tour was opening doors
it was my job to get through
them and have the issues
against advice the decision is made
to wheel through the Canadian Winter
beyond expectations...10,000 people
...100,000 ...I’m thinking of Terry...
donations build...media attention
...are we increasing awareness?
back in the US ...nothing much
had changed...fundraising dismal
...I had to find my own personal
victories in order to carry on. So I
looked for a smile from a passerby
searched for a wheeling stroke that
eastern US...devastating failure
perhaps low point of the tour
we’d crossed one of the biggest, most powerful and
wealthy countries in the world and put only $6,000 in the
Legacy Fund. BUT WE’D MADE IT THIS FAR!
the wind in my face...thick snow...near white out...12 hours ...50 miles
stories of a big reception, brass band
thousands of people...fifteen people
national anthem on a cassette.
We started the tour before we were ready, things weren’t
happening and we were paying for it. I was sniping at everyone
I also knew that I had to uncover the source of my feelings.
If I didn’t my anger was going to drive everyone
away. I came to recognize that the driving force behind my
reactions was fear, frustration and the overwhelming
sense of responsibility.
Don’t look down at the road...just
wheel one session at a time, three
hours and 23 miles every session,
three sessions every day. Don’t think
about 24,901.55 miles...think about
Siskyou Summit, Oregon
second day, completely overwhelmed
by doubt and uncertainty, had developed
tendonitis in my wrists, elbows and shoulders
the result of 70 miles of wheeling into 60
mile per hour headwinds with the temperature
resting around freezing.
when your dream and reality
actually meet...thousands cheering, leaning out of
windows...smell of the dream...horns
and sirens blasting, sensory overload...
the final turn...cut the ribbon...home
until one is committed there is uncertainty
for the crew, long, tiring days
with little relief
I view this tour like trying to push a boulder
up a steep hill. Lately a lot of people have
tried to take me from behind that boulder
and set me on top of it, make something
special out of me. please put me
back behind the boulder, and let me try to
push it a little bit further.
longer going away from home...we’re
going home...one year on the road.
.....1,086 postcards...63 flat tires
47 pairs worn out gloves...300 rolls
of tape...4 robberies...1 worn out
wheelchair...59 official receptions
...7,180,800 wheelchair strokes
we reached all levels
of society...we were treated
with respect and dignity
China promised a glimpse of
the dream coming true
The wind is relentless, fine
eye burning dust
Listen, I've had parents come and
snatch their children away from in front of me
because my voice is strange and
my arms wave around a lot. I’ve had
other children laugh at me. That’s not an
easy thing to accept. Rick has changed that
in Newfoundland. I saw parents running
down the highway with their children, trying
to get a handshake or autograph.
And the kids? They love him. You think
that isn’t going to make a difference.
Hansen's wheelchair journey across Canada; struggles and hardships that one can overcome through perseverence and faith in oneself.
This mural was commissioned by Orca Bay Sports. It commemorates the tenth anniversary of Rick Hansen’s ‘Man in Motion’ tour undertaken to raise awareness and funds for spinal cord injury and research.