Hansen marks 20th anniversary
Man in Motion still raising money for spinal cord injury research

Joel Baglole
Vancouver Sun

March 21, 2005

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Rick Hansen is still in motion 20 years after he pushed himself around the world in a wheelchair and raised millions of dollars to aid spinal cord injury research.

It was exactly 20 years ago today that Hansen, now 47, left Vancouver's Oakridge Centre shopping mall in his wheelchair and began the "Man In Motion" tour aimed at raising awareness of people with disabilities and raising money to help fund research into spinal cord injuries.

During the two years, two months and two days of his tour, Hansen wheeled 40,072 kilometres -- equal to the circumference of the earth -- and raised $26.1 million. His journey took him through 34 countries and across four continents as he wheeled an average of 50 to 70 km a day and spent 792 days on the road.

During his tour, Hansen wore out 160 wheelchair tires, 94 pairs of gloves and was robbed four times. He endured punishing weather, difficult terrain and hostile environments. He completed his trek by crossing Canada from Newfoundland to B.C. during the winter.

Looking back in an interview Sunday afternoon, Hansen said there were times when he thought he'd never complete his journey.

"It was overwhelming," he said. "Every day seemed so challenging... I had hopes and dreams, but also fears and concerns. There were a lot of times when I thought, 'My God. What have I got myself into.' I thought of quitting a lot."

But Hansen didn't quit. He continued to push himself and completed the Man In Motion tour, which turned out to be an unqualified success.

When he left Vancouver on March 21, 1985, his goal was to raise $10 million. He ended up with $26.1 million.