Rick Hansen marks 25th anniversary of wheelchair tour

Cross-country relay will open in Newfoundland, close in Vancouver next May.

Photo of Rick Hansen courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Man is back in Motion.

And The Canadian Press has the story:

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Rick Hansen will return Wednesday to the spot overlooking the Atlantic Ocean where he turned the first wheel 25 years ago to the day on his Man in Motion Tour.

Hansen will be joined by Newfoundland Premier Kathy Dunderdale and others at the Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site near St. John's to the mark the anniversary of his cross-country journey by wheelchair.

Hansen completed the 12,000-kilometre trek in nine months and went on to circle the world while raising millions for spinal cord injuries research.

"It was a huge, impossible dream to circle the globe in a wheelchair -- and it began with a single turn of the wheel,'' Hansen said in a statement of his website www.rickhansenrelay.com.

Wednesday's anniversary will also mark the start of a relay that will retrace Hansen's original route across Canada.

About 7,000 people will run, bike, walk or wheel in succession through 600 communities during the relay that will end in Vancouver on May 22, 2012.

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said in a statement Tuesday that the anniversary of Hansen's historic journey "is a perfect reminder of the amazing strides Rick has made in helping others by wheeling around the world.''

"This event encourages all residents to continue Rick's legacy of giving back to the community,'' he said.

Each participant in the relay will hand off to the next one a medal struck by the Royal Canadian Mint in Hansen's honour.

The relay will cover between 40 to 80 kilometres a day, with each participant averaging 250 metres.

Canadians 13 years of age and older can apply on Hansen's website to become a medal-bearer.

"I am inviting the nation to take up the cause, celebrate the progress that has been made and recognize and inspire a new generation of difference makers to never give up on their dreams and realize that with courage and determination, anything is possible,'' Hansen said in his statement.

It took Hansen 26 months to wheel over 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries on his world tour.

The Rick Hansen Foundation has raised $250 million towards a cure for spinal cord injuries.

Hansen, 53, now a resident of Richmond, was paralyzed from the waist down during a highway accident when he was 15.

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