Thursday 24 May 2012

"One Man, 34 Countries, No Limits"

What if one day you could no longer walk? What if tomorrow you woke up and were suddenly, permanently blind or lost a loved one? How would your life change? Would you be devastated? How would you move on? Would you move on?

Would you become a better person?

Twenty five years ago a Canadian Hero was born. Over a 26 month journey of 40,000 kilometres, through 34 countries, one man changed the world. Rick Hansen made the world a better place for us all. We often hear people say, "I am just one person - one person can't make a real difference." Rick Hansen pretty much ruined that excuse for all of us. In the 23 years since his foundation was started, he has raised $252 million in investments towards spinal chord research, education, and initiatives. He has also inspired countless people. Among those people? Me.

I am always interested to hear a person's story and learn how they have handled adversity. Some people are exceedingly resilient and seem to be able to rise to almost any occasion. Some don't do so well when life takes a sudden turn. But I believe that there is always an opportunity - sometimes it just takes time to be able to wipe away the fog and see a bit of sun shine through the window.

Rick Hansen was only 15 years old when he was in an accident that left him paralyzed. He could have chosen to let the accident shape his life in a negative way. Fortunately for us, he chose another path. He decided to not let his disability define him or limit him. What could have been the end became a new beginning, a theme that was echoed during his 25th Anniversary Concert For Heroes that I was lucky enough to be at on Tuesday night.

The evening honoured a number of Difference Makers honoured by the Rick Hansen Foundation. It was a celebration of what these people have overcome and what they have contributed to the world. One woman who had suffered a spinal injury literally would not have been standing there if it hadn't been for the work that the Rick Hansen Foundation has done: funding for research and facilities. It, of course, also honoured the Man in Motion himself. By the end of the night I was in tears & the thought of going home to bed was almost ridiculous - I had work to do, a world to impact and change! OK, but I needed sleep and rest to do that so maybe I would start the next morning!

Can you imagine what Rick's friends and family must have thought when he came up with his crazy plan? "Hey guys, I am going to wheel across Canada!" Yes, Terry Fox had run across the country a couple of years before but Rick was in a wheelchair - was he out of his mind?! No, turns out he was in his right mind. By following his heart and what he felt was the right thing to do, he proved any naysayers wrong and forever changed the way we view people with physical disabilities. He made incredible strides toward breaking down barriers towards inclusivity.

Rick Hansen has always been and remains my HERO. He is doing with his life what I am hoping to do with mine - be an advocate for change and speak for those with disabilities. His disability is physical and visible. Mine is harder to see: mental illness. The barriers are also hard to see but they are still there: people who don't understand depression and tell you to stop being so emotional or not to take things so personally. The people who don't think that a person with mental illness can function, let alone function to a high level, in the workplace. But that's OK because I am going to change that, and with your help. I am one person and you are one person. Together we can change the world.

I don't know if Rick's accident made him a better person or not. One thing is for sure, he chose to refuse limitation and became an inspiration because of his accident. Thank you, Rick Hansen!

KB xo

P.S. To learn more about Rick Hansen and to support his foundation:
P.P.S Watch this great clip of Rick Hansen  and Rick Mercer bungee jumping in BC!

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Eating Disorders: What Are We Truly Hungry For?"

    For two years in my 30's I had an eating disorder: bulimia. It took me ten years to admit that to anyone, even my doctor. I f...