Rick Hansen, a Paralympic athlete and the founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization that removes barriers for people with disabilities by changing attitudes, creating accessible spaces and inspiring an inclusive society.
Rick grew up in Port Alberni, British Columbia, with ambitions for professional sport. When he was 15, on his way home from a fishing trip, he suffered a spinal cord injury when he was thrown from the back of a pickup truck. The accident left him paralysed from the waist down. With support and motivation from various mentors, Rick returned to sport less than a year later, and attended the University of British Columbia, where he became the first person with a disability to graduate with a degree in physical education.
Between 1979 and 1984, Rick won 19 international wheelchair marathons, four world titles, and nine Pan American Wheelchair gold medals. During this period, Rick was named Canada's Disabled Athlete of the Year three times and he represented Canada at the Summer Paralympic Games in 1984.
In 1985, Rick embarked on the Man in Motion World Tour, a two-year journey through 34 countries around the world to raise awareness for the potential of people with disabilities. Through the tour, Rick promoted accessibility and inclusiveness for all, and raised $26 million.
Rick founded the Rick Hansen Foundation in 1988 to continue the work of the Man in Motion World Tour. The Foundation focuses on spinal cord injury research, and other programs which aim to create an accessible and inclusive world where people with disabilities can live to their full potential.