Rick Hansen to mark anniversary of Man In Motion tour Saturday in Kelowna

Kelowna will mark the 25th anniversary of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour with a free public celebration this Saturday at the Rotary Centre For the Arts.

In addition to a relay by 45 medal bearers carrying a special medal created by the Canadian Mint to mark the occasion, the city will host the community celebration starting at 4 p.m. featuring displays of wheelchair basketball and soccer, special equipment that helps the disabled, food, entertainment and booths set up by community organizations.

At 5 p.m. the last of the local medal bearers—or difference makers as the city has rechristened them—will arrive at the site prior to local dignitaries taking to the stage and welcoming Hansen.

Following the celebration, a private reception will be held inside the RCA for the medal bearers and Hansen.

“It’s really about community and being a community celebration,” said local organizer Alison Thompson with the city. “It’s a community driven event.”

She said the work to organize the celebration—as Kelowna is one of hundreds of stops on the anniversary tour— has been done by volunteers.

Part of that work was setting up a Facebook page that allowed residents to share their stories of inspiration. Hansen’s historic Man In Motion tour, is a nine-month, 12,000-kilometre journey across the country. It started in Cape Spear, Newfoundland, on Aug. 24, 2011, and will end in Vancouver May 22, just as the original tour did in 1987.

But, unlike 25 years ago, when Hansen was the solitary man in motion, this time, he is inspiring many in motion, as more than 7,000 people were selected to carry the medal during the cross-country relay.

In Kelowna, 45 people will carry it, starting around 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon on Highway 33 when the medal enters the city east of Rutland.

The medal bearers, all people who have made a difference in the lives of others, will carry it throughout the city, prior to the celebration outside the RCA downtown later in the day.

“Rick Hansen has inspired many Canadians with his personal journey and through this tour has the opportunity to inspire a new generation,” said Kelowna’s community and neighbourhood programs manager Louise Roberts-Taylor.

“The difference in this tour, Rick is not doing it alone. Difference makers have been chosen to help move the relay medal across Canada.”

She said the difference makers here in Kelowna have helped to make the city more accessible and inclusive, have overcome adversity or live the tour’s credo “anything is possible.”

After the celebration, the city will present the stories and photos collected on the Facebook site and during the day to the Rick Hansen Foundation as a Kelowna keepsake. A version will also be available for the public to download on the city’s website,

Since completing his Man In Motion world tour in 1987, when he powered his wheelchair 40,000 kilometres over 26 months through 34 countries and raised $26 million for spinal chord injury research and awareness, Hansen’s foundation has raised another $200 million for the cause.



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