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Rick Hansen to relive Man in Motion tour in China

Rick Hansen is off to China on Sunday. - Michael Mui photo
Rick Hansen is off to China on Sunday.
— image credit: Michael Mui photo

It’s been 25 years since Rick Hansen circled the world with little other than a wheelchair and a pair of cycling gloves.

Ignited by the achievements of Canadian athlete Terry Fox, the 53-year-old logged more than 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries to arrive back in Vancouver after a two-year journey.

But halfway through the Man in Motion tour, Hansen began to lose confidence—his work just didn’t get the attention he wanted. That was until the summer of 1987, when Hansen found himself in front of the colossal challenge named the Great Wall of China.

“It forever changed my view of the world,” Hansen said at a press conference in Richmond Thursday.

Chinese residents had come to his support by the tens of thousands. It’s a thought forever engrained in his mind.

Tomorrow, Hansen will fly to China to mark the 25th anniversary of his original Man In Motion Tour.

Much has changed in the last quarter century. Since 1987, Deng Pufang, a paraplegic and founder of China’s Disabled Persons Foundation, has made the Great Wall wheelchair accessible, created rehabilitation facilities for paraplegics and the mentally ill, reached out to Chinese youth, won the United Nations Human Rights Prize and even helped organize the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“He went on to forge legacies…for 25 years,” said Hansen, who moved to Richmond after his Man in Motion tour.

Not to be beaten, Hansen is calling for 7,000 Canadian volunteers to walk, wheel or run in a medal-carrying relay scheduled to commence Aug. 24. He’s asking for participants to register at rickhansenrelay.com.

The Rick Hansen Foundation has donated over $165 million to charitable programs and research grants since the first tour.

Hansen plans to increase the number by $250 million before fall 2012.

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