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Man in Motion Rick Hansen this year’s Calgary Stampede parade marshal

<p>CALGARY – He wheeled around the world 25 years ago, so rolling down the streets of Calgary as Stampede parade marshal should be easy for Man in Motion Rick Hansen.</p> <p>Hansen, who has announced he is planning another tour across Canada in August, has been chosen to lead the parade July 8 that kicks of the 10-day event.</p> <p>”If I wheeled around the world, I figured I better get on my chair and wheel the parade route and ask some folks to join me as well,” Hansen said Thursday after his appearance in the parade was announced.</p> <p>Hansen’s two-year wheelchair odyssey for spinal cord research made stops in 34 countries and raised $26 million. Upon his return, he established the Rick Hansen Foundation to find a cure for spinal cord injuries and improve quality of life for those who have them. It has raised over $200 million.</p> <p>”It’s amazing the kind of progress that has taken place. Everybody has responded to the challenge,” said Hansen, who was wearing the traditional white cowboy hat associated with the Stampede.</p> <p>”I feel just so inspired by the local champions who have powered up that change and my biggest dream is to create a global network of collaborators of the future for the next 25 years so we get there faster.”</p> <p>He admits it was difficult keeping the secret after agreeing to take on</p> <p>the honorary position.</p> <p>”You know it was almost as difficult as when I was asked to bring the Olympic flame into the stadium for the opening ceremonies (in Vancouver),” Hansen said.</p> <p>”You had to keep it incredibly quiet and not tell anyone because you wanted it to be a secret and have a special moment like this to be able to announce it.”</p> <p>Hansen first drew the attention of the world in 1985 when he began his tour.</p> <p>”Rick is an iconic Canadian figure. The values that Rick shows and displays everyday are really the values of the Stampede, of western heritage and of respect,” said Stampede president Mike Casey.</p> <p>”He is so well known around the world and with Rick’s participation people will realize his focus on youth is our focus on youth.”</p> <p>”There’s been prime ministers, royalty, actors, entertainers, sports figures – they all in their own way have got compelling stories,” Casey said of previous parade marshals.</p> <p>”Rick has such a compelling story that I think everybody is going to be proud of this selection.”</p> <p>Earlier this year, Hansen announced a new goal: a nine-month, 12,000-kilometre cross-country relay that will follow the route of the original Man In Motion tour. Some 7,000 participants from across Canada will have the opportunity to walk, wheel or run in the relay.</p> <p>Hansen was paralyzed from the waist down in a car crash in 1973 when he was 15 years old. His determination and tenacity would see him win 19 international wheelchair marathons and six medals as a Paralympian.</p>

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