It has been 35 years since Rick Hansen completed his Man in Motion tour.
In March 1985, Hansen began a 40,000-kilometre journey around the world to raise money for spinal cord research.
Twenty-six months later he completed his trek across four continents, raising $26 million along the way.
Hansen went on to create the Rick Hansen Foundation, a group dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities.
Since it began in 1988, the organization has raised awareness, changed attitudes and funded spinal cord injury research and care.
Hansen was just shy of his 16th birthday when he was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He went on to become involved in wheelchair sports and graduate from the University of British Columbia, becoming the first person with a physical disability to graduate with a degree in Physical Education.
He then competed in wheelchair marathons as well as the Paralympic and Pan Am games before embarking on the Man in Motion tour.
Hansen said finishing the tour itself was a massive accomplishment but beyond that, he is proud to have dedicated his life to making the world more accessible.
“Finishing the Man in Motion tour was an amazing accomplishment, a dream come true and it raised money and created awareness,” Hansen said. “How would we have known that we would be still engaged from what was a project to a life mission and journey.”
He said some of the work he’s most proud of from the last 35 years includes creating a school program that inspires thousands of youth all across Canada.
“If youth get the idea of being positive about people with disabilities and they become barrier busters and be able to include people as whole human beings then there’s great hope for the future,” Hansen added.
The well-known figure and accessibility advocate also said they have the chance to normalize accessibility so that everyone has the chance to reach their full potential.
“I think the most important thing is to use information technology and to connect champions from around the world to be able to have 250,000 professionals who actually know how to actually build buildings and retrofit old buildings to ensure that they’re accessible for everyone,” Hansen said.
“With that in mind, we can truly translate the Man in Motion from a single event to a legacy that will have a global impact to match the vision that I had and that I still have now.”