Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/1/2012 (2039 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
David Horne was 11 years old when Rick Hansen rolled through his Odessa, Ont., hometown on the original Man in Motion Tour 25 years ago.
Horne ran beside Hansen in his wheelchair.
When the two met briefly again at 17 Wing Saturday, Horne greeted Hansen midway through his cross-Canada tour to mark the first journey's 25th anniversary, this time as an air force captain at 1 Canadian Air Division.
As the pair mugged for the cameras, you could still glimpse the little boy in the military officer's face.
Horne recalled being happy and excited to be picked for the honour as a boy, and he said he sees Hansen as a hero to this day.
"He's one of the people I've emulated in my life. He's attempted the impossible and he's succeeded. And he's always so cheerful in the face of adversity," Horne said.
Two other military men, both corporals with 17 Wing, also met Hansen Saturday and one, Cpl. Deitrich McKenzie, drew indulgent smiles for his excitement about meeting Hansen, like Horne, one more time.
"When I met you 25 years ago, you shook my hand, and I went home and my mom took a picture of my hand," McKenzie told Hansen. "Here we are 25 years later, full circle," he said.
The air force members joined 25 other relay runners, honoured as Hansen medal-bearers, who ran through the base Saturday after a brief welcoming ceremony from Wing Cmdr. Blaise Frawley.
Hansen said earlier Saturday at Health Sciences Centre that his return to Winnipeg brought back bright memories.
"I'm thrilled to rekindle the memories," Hansen said after he greeted patients and staff and gave a speech on the importance of a positive attitude for people who have suffered injuries.
Hansen's original tour was worldwide. This time, the tour across Canada started in Cape Spear, N.L., on Aug. 24 and will end May 22 in Vancouver.
It also includes trips to spinal-cord research centres around the world where the Rick Hansen Institute is spearheading a global registry to link medical discoveries in spinal-cord research.
The appearance at Health Sciences Centre was important because Winnipeg is one of 30 research centres in Canada that have signed on to the work, Hansen said.
"There is now hope in the laboratory that the newly injured will walk away or that there will even be a cure for spinal-cord injury."
Hansen said years before he rolled his wheelchair out on the world's highways, cities like Winnipeg were raising awareness of the need to alter the urban landscape for people with spinal-cord injuries.
"Winnipeg in many ways was the birthplace of the accessibility movement in the '60s and '70s," Hansen said, "and this time I've seen ramps and curb cuts everywhere, and I'm encouraged to see more people with disabilities out in the community."
Hansen's trip was timed to mark the exact date he wheeled into Winnipeg in 1987 on his tour to raise awareness of spinal-cord injury and funds for research to find a cure.
"The last time I was here, it was bitter cold, and I remember the incredible enthusiasm of people who waited for hours in the cold. I remember the Winnipeg Convention Centre event. It was packed with thousands of people," Hansen said.
This time, he was accompanied by medal-bearers selected as relay runners for their work locally to make the city more accessible.
One of them, Health Sciences Centre spinal-cord-unit director Dr. Karen Ethan, told Hansen, "I want to thank you for your dedication in helping people with spinal-cord injury."
Hansen's tour continues Monday in Yellowknife.
Spinal injuries affect everyone
The Rick Hansen Institute is setting up a worldwide medical research registry to link discoveries in the search for a cure for spinal-cord injuries. Hospitals in Israel, China, Australia and the United States have signed on with 30 Canadian hospitals, including Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre.
Here are some local reasons the global scope of the work is important:
1,546 Manitoba residents live with spinal-cord injuries.
50 Manitoba residents suffer new injuries each year.
140 days is the median stay in hospital per patient.
$120 million is the annual cost of health care and support for spinal-cord injuries in Manitoba.