The photo with this story shows me congratulating Rick Hansen
following his daughter’s fastball game. I will explain why later.
Whenever I see Rick Hansen I get a lump in my throat thinking back to
May 22, 1987 and the scene at BC Place Stadium, Vancouver.
On that day
my wife Aline and I joined over 60,000 people standing, cheering, crying
tears of joy. Millions cheered across Canada as they watched on TV. We
were all welcoming home the young man who had just spent two years
circling the globe in a wheelchair, raising money and awareness for
spinal cord research. A feat that most people, myself included, doubted
he could complete.
Everyone is familiar with the now-famous pictures of Rick wheeling
across the Prairies in freezing weather. Wheeling up the steps of the
Wall of China, refusing offers of assistance. When Aline and I climbed
those same steps years later we both thought of Rick Hansen and the
sheer strength and determination he had to have had.
I have met Rick at business functions several times over the years.
Each time I marvel at his professional poise as he meets people on his
never-ending quest to raise many more millions of dollars for spinal
cord research. He is always polite to everyone. It’s not an act, he is
genuinely like that.
Recently I saw close up another side of Rick Hansen and it made me an
even bigger fan. It was at a dusty neighbourhood ball diamond on a
Sunday afternoon. Rick was surrounded by young girls ages 10-12. He is
their fastball coach. His daughter Rebecca is on his team. Our
granddaughter plays on a competing team. As I watched him giving
instructions and offering words of encouragement I wondered if these
young athletes realize they are being coached by one of the world’s
greatest living athletes.
Sitting there in his wheelchair he was just another little league
father/coach dedicating his time and talent to help a group of
youngsters achieve in sports and in life. The kids on the team simply
call him coach, and that’s the way he likes it.
Another reason why Rick Hansen is a Canadian Achiever.
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