Man In Motion

“I honestly believe that my best work is in front, not behind me. I am driven by a deep passion and need to make a difference and leave this world a little better than when I arrived. That’s what keeps me going.Rick Hansen

Whenever I pass by the grounds of the Vancouver Hospital, I stop by the commemorative sculpture of Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” sculpture and think back to 1985, when it all started.

In 1985, Don and I were living in Kitsilano area of Vancouver close to the Fogg N’ Suds pub that we frequented on a regular basis. Rick Hansen was an unknown to us – that is until a huge map of the world greeted us at the Fogg N’ Suds entrance in early 1985. That is when we first heard about Rick Hansen and his Man in Motion Tour.

When the Man in Motion World Tour was launched on March 21, 1985 from Oakridge Mall in Vancouver, very little attention was given to this young man. His commitment and determination never wavered. Through rain, winds, heat, he averaged 8 hours of “wheeling” a day to log in 40,075 kilometers.

We followed him, virtually from Vancouver, as he embarked on his 26-month trek, via wheel chair, through 34 countries on four continents – North America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia. He returned home on May 22, 1987 after raising $26 million for spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives.

Rick Hansen continues to foster a spirit of hope and endurance. I invite you to meet up with Rick and the amazing organization that has the vision for “An inclusive world where people with disabilities are living to their full potential.” RickHansen.com

This project was timed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” world tour. The work was intended to honour his achievements and to act as a symbol of the struggles and hardships that disabled and able bodied people can overcome through perseverence and faith in oneself.” William (Bill) Koochin, Artist Statement

67 Thoughts

    1. Thank you for stopping by Liz. This sculpture reminded me of Michelangelo’s quote: “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” Rick Hansen broke free!!!

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Hi Rebecca, I do remember this story. It was in our news at the time. What an amazing and determined young man. Determination is the characteristic that dominates successful people. We all face obstacles in our paths, it is how we face those obstacles and whether we defeat them or they defeat us, that counts.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. How well said, Robbie – “it is how we face those obstacles and whether we defeat them or they defeat us.” I agree wholeheartedly that determination and perseverance build a resiliency that allows for fresh possibilities. Rick Hansen was a catalyst. His journey featured many people who were there to support him, who believed in his dream, who shared the pathway – his parents, his wife, Amanda who was his physiotherapist – friends and family. Thank you so much your comments, Robbie – very much appreciated.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. While the sculpture seems to be isolated, it is positioned in front of the Vancouver Hospital close to the spinal cord research building. This is a busy street/walking area so many people see it. Right now, they are doing road maintenance to reduce the traffic. To the side of the sculpture, there is a path to a garden area where people can sit and have lunch. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comments.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Isn’t this wonderful. I love how the wheels emerge from the bare rock. A stunning piece of art and a fitting tribute to a magnificent man and his achievements. 👏🏻💕

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This sculpture is located close Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, where spinal cord research is ongoing. The Collaboration on Repair Discoveries — CORD — was founded in 1995 by Dr. John Steeves with the support of Rick Hansen and then-UBC President Dr. David Strangway. That year, the Rick Hansen Man-in-Motion Chair in Spinal Cord Research was created. What is interesting is that one idea ignited others. Rick was inspired by his friend, Terry Fox. (https://terryfox.org/). Ideas are powerful – they change the world and cannot be contained. I believe that Rick’s desire to leave the world a little better is something that is in all of us! Sending many hugs yours way.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. That was amazing, Rebecca. I had never heard of this man. I was going to say and I am ashamed. But then inspired by this I thought, No, knowledge like life is a journey. Something to be acquired at every turn. The shame would be in never acquiring it. Thank you for this post. xxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh, how very very well said, Shey – knowledge like life is a journey…” It seems that you and Albert Einstein think alike: “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” I especially appreciate the word “attempt” because it indicates that there will always be more to learn. And that gives me great comfort! Sending many hugs across the pond.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Aw Rebecca, I didn’t know that quote but it is so so true. We should attempt sat every turn . That is very kind comment. Honestly. Your post really brought home the business of knowledge, so full credit to you. xxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Very touching story. It reminds me of a movie which I watched lately: As Long As I Breathe. Such emotional stories help us all going forwards and never stop! Thank you, dear Rebecca, for this meaningful lesson.
    The movie is a true story of the life of Robin Cavendish, you might know it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My mother Frances talks about the horrors of polio during her time. It takes courage to live, to embrace a new reality – both for the person who has experienced the disability and for those who continue to love, encourage and advocate for that person’s quality of life. Thank you, Aladin!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. It is hard to believe that Rick Hansen began his journey in 1985. He continues to advocate for raising awareness, changing attitudes, helping create accessible spaces, and liberating the amazing potential of people with disabilities. Thank you so much for your comments – very much appreciated.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Sylvia for stopping by and for your comment. I was at an event where Rick was the guest speaker. His enthusiasm and focus on spinal cord research was heartening as was his dedication to creating a world that is accessible and inclusive for all by removing barriers for people with disabilities.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Such an interesting and inspiring post, Rebecca! Very glad the admirable Rick Hansen is still with us. And after seeing your video of the sculpture of him filmed from various angles, I must say that it’s an excellent work of art.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed the sculpture. I attempted to find out more about the artist, William (Bill) Koochin, but could only find this from his December 2017 obituary. “Bill passed away a few days after his 90th birthday. He was born in Brilliant, BC and studied at the Vancouver School of Art and the Grande Chaumiere and Manufacture de Sevres in Paris. He taught sculpture at Emily Carr University from 1961-1988. His work was displayed in solo exhibitions and held in collections across North America.” Rick Hansen was inspired by his friend, Terry Fox, which is another unforgettable memory. (I must find my photos of Terry)Hugs

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Did you notice his photo at Cape Spear Summer 1986 – most easterly point in North American? When we were in St. John’s we visited the Terry Fox Monument. I understand Terry was the inspiration for Man in Motion.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. It is absolutely impressive, Rebecca, how a story like the one you have just told me/us can give courage to look forward, despite the great problems! Thank you very much for having me introduced to Rick Hansen and his wisdom.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I remember hearing Rick talking about if he had the chance to go back in time avoid the accident, would he want to change his life. No, absolutely not was his response. Life evolves in ways that we never expect. Thank you so much for joining me, virtually, on my side of the world. Sending many hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I feel the same way. People like Rick inspire SCI people to hope and work very hard and use what strength and determination we have left to leave something positive behind. Nobody knows that better than many SCI survivors. Thank you for paying tribute to him. It means the world to me.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Thank you, Mary Jo, for your profound and insightful comments. I recall when Rick entered a city or town, there were many young people in wheel chairs to greet him accompany him through the streets. Can you imagine the excitement and hope that was generated.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you, Rebecca, for this inspirational, living story of a person dedicated to making a difference, even enduring a long hard journey. I remember the days when this actually took place, I think the whole country watched his progress as he made his slow progress across the miles. Thank you for bringing this valuable, historical event to remind us to also strive to make a difference. Thank you, too, for including the video of his likeness.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I remember when we watched Rich Hansen make his ways across the world together, Frances. We were inspired then and we are inspired now. What I remember thinking was that I will never attempt this type of endeavor – as you know, I am not an athlete. But there are many, many ways to make a difference. Our task is to find a way in which to use our creativity and determination to give back to our communities, both local and global. You have been a wonderful role model and mentor. So glad that you enjoyed the post and video!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. An amazing and inspiring man and love that sculpture, it speaks to vulnerability but also to the strength to over come it. His response to the question about whether if he could go back he would change his life is telling.. One of those people you would love to meet in person so hope their courage and commitment would rub off on you.. Thanks Rebecca..♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How very well said, Sally- “one of those people you would love to meet in person….” Someone once said to me that you could always make people happy: either by entering a room or leaving a room. May we bring joy to others by entering a room. Sending many hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Rick is definitely a hero. His work goes before him, and after him.
    He will be helping others long after he is gone.
    This is a very thoughtful post, Rebecca!
    It reminds me of Terry Fox, who tried to run across Canada with one good leg, and a prosthetic leg. His attempt to raise money for cancer was cut short. The cancer claimed him. Yet, his bravery continues to raise money.
    I wish he could have survived to see the good he is still doing.
    He was born in Winnipeg, and died in Westminster, B.C.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Resa, I remember the day we heard that Terry had passed. It was a day of mourning for Canada. I have visited the starting point in St. John’s, Newfoundland where he dipped his artificial leg into St. John’s Harbour to launch his journey. I read that the friendship between Terry and Rick was the catalyst for Rick to begin his Man in Motion Tour. The courage of one, ignites courage in others. Sending many hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m so glad to hear they inspired each other.
        Many hugs back… they (the hugs) just have to get across the planks over the ditch that used to be my sidewalk, then they can fly over to Vancouver!

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow, what an amazing post, Rebecca. I vaguely remember the event. I was working and giving college the first shot at the time, so I wasn’t up on news, sports, or TV shows. Thanks for bringing this back. Definitely inspirational. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and for comment, Teagan. All this happened over 30 years ago and it still seems so real. Perhaps it is because we came together as a community with a common desire to find a solution. It always helps when everyone at your favourite pub was following the progress on a map. Sending hugs back on the wing.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I remember well when Rick Hansen did his Man in Motion tour. I was having lunch in downtown Calgary when a man rushed into the coffee shop and said, Mr Hansen is coming down the street. So we all rushed out and watched this amazing man wheel down a main street in Calgary. Once I moved to Vancouver I had some dealings with him and his wife, such wonderful people.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Isn’t it interesting how clearly we remember the times and places where we were when something extraordinary happened. Ideas have the power to sweep across a nation, and the globe. When one person says, I will pursue a better life for others, others respond to the call to action. Thank you for remembering with me and for your commitment to others. Sending hugs.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you stopped by for a visit, Carolyn. I agree – the greatest challenges build strength and resilience. We find support and encouragement from family, friends and the greater community. Wonderful things happen when we embrace challenges together. Sending many hugs back your way.

      Liked by 2 people

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