Rick Hansen relay returns to rock

Aethne Hinchliffe
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All it took was a little bit of TV watching and an admiration for Rick Hansen for Rebecca Aucoin to become a medal bearer for the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Man in Motion Tour, which begins Aug. 24.

Rebecca Aucoin will be one of the medal bearers for the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Man in Motion World Tour. Aethne Hinchliffe photo


After seeing an ad on TV, Rebecca, who’s going into Grade 10 at Belanger Memorial School in the Codroy Valley, applied online. That was in April.

As a medal bearer, she’ll be one of 7,000 people across the country to participate in the relay. Dawning her tour tracksuit, Rebecca will do a quarter of a kilometre of the tour on Sept. 6.

“I wrote a paragraph about why I thought I should be in the relay,” she said.

She said she wrote about how she promotes leadership at school by being on the student council and in the school robotics club.

In her paragraph, Rebecca described Mr. Hansen as an “amazing and a courageous person.” She said she believes he’s amazing and courageous because of the struggles he’s faced and the challenges he’s taken on despite.

Since entering the contest, Rebecca said she sort of forgot about it - until she got the call.

“When they called, it was just overwhelming. It was amazing,” she said.

She said Mr. Hansen inspires her by the way he treats people and the message he encourages people to follow.

It seems Rebecca lives by similar messages. She said she encourages leadership at school in many ways. This year, she ran for vice president of the student council and was elected. She plays on a number of sports teams, including softball, soccer, volleyball and basketball.

“If we’re playing a sports game, I always keep everybody’s spirits up,” said Rebecca. “When we’re doing school projects, I always like to keep everybody on task.”

Rebecca is not only active in school. Beyond the school walls, she loves to read, play sports, hang out with friends, scrapbook and bake.

She said when she found out about being a medal bearer she was honoured. Rebecca said on the day of the race, she thinks she’ll be really excited.

Mr. Hansen began his Man in Motion World tour on March 21, 1985, when he was 27. He wheeled more than 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries.

When Mr. Hansen was 15, he and his friend were in an automobile accident that left Mr. Hansen paralyzed from the waist down. The idea behind his tour was to raise awareness about removing barriers for people who have disabilities.

The 25th Anniversary Relay will retrace the Canadian part of the original tour, with the relay beginning in Cape Spear on Aug. 24, where Mr. Hansen began his cross-Canada journey in 1986.

“How this came to be was he (Mr. Hansen) really wanted to do the push of telling stories of Canadians who are doing great things in their communities, and at the same time celebrate that it’s been 25 years since he went across the country,” said John Gibson, the manager of communications for the Rick Hansen relay.

The relay is for those who are able bodied and those who have disabilities. Medal bearers will run, walk or wheel their section of the relay before passing the medal to the next bearer.

“This one medal will go through 7,000 people and it will go through the entire country,” said Mr. Gibson.

The medal will begin around Mr. Hansen’s neck and finish in Vancouver on May 22, 2012.

Organizations: Belanger Memorial School, Cross-Canada

Geographic location: Codroy Valley, Cape Spear, Vancouver

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