Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for March 21st!

Canadian History for Kids: Rick Hansen

March 21, 1985 – Sport – Rick Hansen launches his “Man in Motion” world tour from Oakridge Mall in Vancouver.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at Rick Hansen and his man in motion tour.

Rick Hansen won all-star awards in five sports, as a young athlete. He was paralyzed at the age of 15 from being in the back of a truck with his friend, when suddenly the pick up truck swerved and hit a tree. He left the bed of the truck from the impact and received a spinal cord injury. He worked on rehabilitation, completed high school, then became the first student with a physical disability to graduate in physical education from the University of British Columbia.

Hansen won national championships as a wheelchair athlete in volleyball and basketball. He went on to become a world class champion wheelchair marathoner and Paralympic athlete. He competed in wheelchair racing at both the 1980 and 1984 Summer Paralympics, winning a total of three gold, two silver, and one bronze medal. Hansen won 19 international wheelchair marathons, including three world championships. He also coached high school basketball and volleyball.

Inspired by the example of his friend, Terry Fox, Hansen left Vancouver March 21st 1985 to travel, in a wheelchair, the equivalent of the distance around the world. With the goal of seeking to increase public support and awareness of the capabilities of the physically disabled, his “Man in Motion” tour raised $20 million which is to be directed to spinal cord research, rehabilitation and wheelchair sports.

Before his return to Vancouver 22 May 1987, Hansen travelled through 34 countries, including the US, the UK, China, the former USSR and Australia, before starting across Canada. His man in motion event lasted 792 days, 467 of which were spent on the road. He wore out 117 tires and 11 pairs of gloves.

Canadian History for Kids has learned that he returned to Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium to cheering crowds on May 22 1987 after raising $20 million for spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives. Like Terry Fox, he was hailed as an international hero.

Today, the wheelchair and many other items from the Man In Motion World Tour are preserved by the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. The song “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” was written in his honor by Canadian record producer and composer David Foster and British musician John Parr and performed by Parr for the soundtrack of the film St. Elmo’s Fire. Heart of a Dragon is the film based on Hansen’s Man in Motion Tour.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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