RHI would not exist today without the vision of its founder, Rick Hansen.
We gratefully acknowledge the thoughtful guidance and unwavering support Rick and the Rick Hansen Foundation have provided RHI since its inception. Read on to learn more about RHI's founder.
Rick Hansen is a Canadian icon who has dedicated his life to creating a world that is accessible and inclusive for all. Best known as the "Man In Motion" for undertaking an epic two-year 40,000 km journey around the world in his wheelchair. This distance was based on the circumference of Earth at the equator. Rick is also a three-time Paralympic gold medalist. Now the Founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to continuing the Man in Motion World Tour vision of creating a world without barriers for people with disabilities, Rick and his team work hard to change attitudes, create accessible spaces and liberate the amazing potential of people with disabilities.
When Rick was 15, his life changed forever. Returning home from a week-long fishing trip, Rick was thrown from the back of a pick-up truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. His new reality came with a lot of challenges, but with determination, a sense of humour and a lot of heart, he found a way to keep doing the things he loved, and began to make new dreams.
In 1976, Rick enrolled at the University of British Columbia, becoming the first person with a disability to graduate with a degree in Physical Education. Between 1979 and 1984, Rick turned his focus to track and marathoning, winning nineteen wheelchair marathons, the world title three times and nine gold medals at the 1982 Pan Am Games. He won two gold medals and one silver at the 1984 Paralympic Summer Games in Stoke Mandeville, and gold, silver and bronze at the 1980 Paralympic Summer Games in Arnhem, Holland. He also competed for Canada in the 1984 Olympic Games in the 1500m wheelchair track, event as an exhibition sport, and was the first person to break the two-hour time record in a wheelchair marathon for an out-and-back course.
"If you believe in a dream and have the courage to try, anything is possible."
With nothing but a vision, a trailer and a passionate team of supporters, Rick pushed his wheelchair out of Vancouver on March 21, 1985, to set out on a journey that would make history. The Man In Motion World Tour was fueled by two big dreams: to awaken the awareness of the potential of people with disabilities and raise funds to build a world without barriers for people with disabilities and support research into a cure for paralysis after spinal cord injury. Rick and his team traveled through 34 countries, wheeling through the United States, Britain and Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand, Australia, and the Far East, before returning to Vancouver on May 22, 1987. The Tour raised $26 million and became a catalyst for enormous change in the way people with disabilities were perceived.
The Rick Hansen Foundation was established in 1988, following the completion of the Tour. To date, the Foundation has generated over $342 million dollars, and has delivered programs that have raised awareness, changed attitudes and improved the quality of life for people with disabilities. The Foundation works diligently to achieve real change through collaboration, partnerships and teamwork. This includes the Rick Hansen Institute, a global collaboration network for improving the care and finding cures for SCI.
Rick is the recipient of many awards and honours, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal; the Lou Marsh Award, the Vancouver Man of the Year, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame – William Van Horne Visionary Award, Star on Canada's Walk of Fame, the Athlete of the Century award from British Columbia Wheelchair Sports, the Order of the Buffalo, the Order of British Columbia and the Companion of the Order of Canada. Most recently, Rick was the recipient of the Jack Diamond Sports Personality of the Year Award at the 24th Annual Sports Dinner.
Rick and his wife Amanda live in Steveston, B.C. and have three daughters, Rebecca, Alana, Emma.