« view all posts
Yesterday I got to participate in Rick Hansen's 25th Anniversary "Man In Motion" Tour. I got an email months ago about it coming through the country and that I could be a part of it for five days or so, doing an extensive leg of the tour. But because of my training schedule, I decided not to apply.
Shortly after when I was chatting with my friend Kevin Jagger of Long Track, Long Shot, he encouraged me to apply still as a medal bearer. I could be a part of the tour for a day and walk a shorter segment. So I filled out the application online and got in!
Given my extensive history now with spinal cord injuries between me and my dad, this event quickly began to get more and more fun to be a part of.
I knew a bit about Rick and his tour, but started researching more to get all the details. "Inspired by the dream of creating an accessible and inclusive world and finding a cure for spinal cord injury (SCI), Rick Hansen set out on a journey that would make history in 1985—the Man In Motion World Tour (MIMWT). For 26 months, he and his team wheeled over 40,000 km through 34 countries raising awareness about the potential of people with disabilities, creating accessible and inclusive communities, and finding a cure."
40,000 Kilometres!!! Can you imagine how far that would be in that old wheelchair? That thing looks like a BOAT!
So to commemorate 25 years the relay is retracing it's steps through Canada and having 7000 different participants carry the medal this time on his behalf.
I was excited to be a part of this, hearing the other medal bearers stories and all the facts about Rick and what he has done... but then once we got outside and on the shuttle bus it stepped up another level.
OK, so while beginning the bus ride with some dance moves to Katy Perry's "Firework" song doesn't sound all that great, lol, it was actually really funny. We did some moves to get loose and then each individually dropped off at our relay spot.
The shuttle bus drops you off and you can see the cavalry coming behind you. There's police escorts, more shuttle vehicles, and the Rick Hansen tour bus with lights flashing above. I get off the bus with some serious high fives and throw down a couple dance moves while I wait.
The last bearer before me comes up, and after some more high fives puts the medal around my neck. For some reason, like a lightning bolt, I take off! I don't think I even hesitated, I just wanted to start running!
I started laughing, all the escort vehicles speed up to my pace (still not very fast) and we're off. I'm only 15-30 seconds into this thing and I could see the end of my relay part so I was like "Slow down boy!". I need to take some time too and soak this moment in.
I didn't think this experience would really feel so special to me until I took that time and then remembered how just five years ago I was lying in the hospital bed with my spinal cord injury. Not only that, about 3 years ago when I created my first vision board I put a picture on it of a guy running. I had hoped to one day be able to run as well.
Now go figure, I'm running in my first event ever as part of Rick Hansen's Man In Motion Tour.
It was cool man. Seriously, it was just one of those moments where you gotta soak it all in. I'm out on this empty road in St. Catharines with hardly anyone around except the Rick Hansen people and my family (big supporters), and you could just imagine how back in 1985 there must have been so many days Rick was on an empty road as well. Wondering what he was doing I bet, he now has the whole world's attention.
I too wonder sometimes what I'm doing, but feeling the same way that your message is getting heard and inspiring others... no matter what number it is, big or small, we all can be difference makers in our own lives.
Thanks to the Rick Hansen crew for letting me be a part of their journey.
Visit my Facebook page for more photos of the experience here.
Also check out the Rick Hansen Relay online here.