Rick Hansen Relay arrives in City

Red Deerians will have the chance to make a difference as the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay takes place in the City this weekend.

The Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay arrives at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre at 12:30 p.m. on March 2.

On Friday and Saturday, 29 Red Deerians will participate as medal bearers in the Relay, which retraces the Canadian segment of Hansen’s original Man In Motion World Tour.

An opening ceremony will kick off the Relay at 12:30 p.m. on Friday at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre. Following the ceremony, the Relay will run through the City from the G.H. Dawe Community Centre to Red Deer College. An end of day celebration will occur at the Red Deer College main gym at 3 p.m., following the arrival of the final medal bearer. On Saturday, the closing ceremonies will begin at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame at 11 a.m.

Red Deerians are encouraged to come out and support the Relay that celebrates over 7,000 participants from across Canada who make a difference in the lives of others.

Hansen was born in 1957 in Port Alberni B.C. He grew up in Fort St. John, Abbotsford and Williams Lake. In 1973, Hansen and his friend Don Alder were thrown from the back of a pickup truck while on their way home from a fishing trip. Hansen sustained a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down.

In 1975, Hansen returned home from rehabilitation. With encouragement from a coach, he stayed involved in sports and went on to win the table tennis singles gold medal at the Pacific Northwest Games for the Disabled.

In 1976, Hansen enrolled at the University of British Columbia where he became the first person with a physical disability at the institute to earn a degree in physical education. The following year, Hansen met Terry Fox who invited him to play wheelchair basketball. The pair quickly became friends.

Between 1979 and 1984, Hansen won 19 international wheelchair marathons, the world title four times, nine gold medals at the 1982 Pan American Wheelchair Games and represented Canada at the 1984 Olympics. Hansen was named Canada’s Disabled Athlete of the Year in 1979, 1980 and 1982.

On March 22, 1985, Hansen and his team embarked on the ‘Man in Motion World Tour’, completing the equivalent of three marathons every day through 34 countries. The tour raised $26 million for spinal cord injury research, rehabilitation and sport.

Over the next number of years Hansen worked with researchers and created school and awards programs to raise further awareness.

In 2010, Hansen was named the co-mayor of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village and was one of the four final torchbearers during the opening ceremonies. He also addressed 60,000 spectators at the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games.

Meanwhile, the Relay in Red Deer will involve a rolling road closure, which will temporarily impact traffic on Taylor Dr., Gaetz Ave. and 32 St. between 1 and 3 p.m. on March 2. Visit www.reddeer.ca/dawe for more information on the relay route and the community celebrations.

For more information on the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay, visit www.rickhansenrelay.com.