April 14, 2011 (Beijing) – A representative group of the Canadian Alumni Network (CAN) were among the 500 participants and special guests that attended a special ceremony at the Badaling section of the Great Wall on Tuesday April 12th, commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion World Tour”, which he started on March 21, 1985 and took him over 40,000 kilometers and through 34 countries in 26 months, to raise awareness of the potential of people with a disability, raising $26 million for spinal cord injury (SCI) research and quality of life programs. More importantly was the collective shift in consciousness in the belief of the potential of people with disabilities when barriers are removed.
Exactly twenty five years to the date of the historic Man In Motion’s original visit to the Great Wall of China, the Difference Maker Champions Symbolic Relay was organized to connect, inspire and challenge young people and serve as a reminder of the important role the next generation will play in accelerating progress toward a more healthy, sustainable and inclusive world.
“The Great Wall of China played a significant role in the overall success of the original Man In Motion World Tour and was the beginning of a new conversation with China about the potential of people with a disability,” said Rick Hansen, President and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation. “Twenty five years later, it is an honour to be connecting young people at such a symbolic location – the Great Wall of China – and seeing the energy and enthusiasm from the hundreds of students who came out to support my vision of a healthy and inclusive world. The four difference makers who participated today are representative of the millions of kids around the world who are making a difference now.”
The Rick Hansen Difference Maker medal was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mint, which is the same medal that will be passed among 7,000 difference makers during the 9 month cross-Canada 25th Anniversary Relay that begins in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador, on August 24th, 2011.
Mr. Mark Rowswell – a popular celebrity in China known as “Dashan,” and University of Toronto alumni – hosted the event on the Great Wall that the Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China, Mr. David Mulroney attended, along with the young children of Western Academy of Beijing (WAB), a leading international school in Asia. The relay was the first of a number of activities that Rick participated in while in China.
On the third and final day in Beijing, Mr. Jeff Nankivell, Deputy Head of Mission at the Canadian Embassy, warmly welcomed Rick and the eighty-five alumni from Canada’s post- secondary institutions residing in Beijing to the Canadian Alumni Cocktail Reception at the Canadian Club inside the embassy. Rick reflected on the achievements of the 3-day visit to Beijing and the future before presenting a surprise award to Richard Liu, Founder of the Canadian Alumni Network and UBC Alumni representative in Beijing, recognizing his contribution as a difference maker to the Rick Hansen Man in Motion World Tour 25th Anniversary. Richard, who was completely beside himself, made the closing remarks with a presentation declaring, “On behalf of 3000 alumni in China and our 26 Alumni Representatives, the end is really just the beginning for us in China tonight, that Mr. Rick Hansen, as a fellow UBC Alumni, the Honourary Co-Chair of the Canadian Alumni Network, who has made a difference by building a stronger relationship for many in Canada and China in education.” The formalities closed by recognizing long-time founding Alumni Representative who will be returning to Canada this summer, Mr. Peter Forster of the University of Victoria, for a “Lifetime Achievement” award that was presented by Mr. Rick Hansen.
Special thanks to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, the BC International Trade and Investment Office, and the Canadian Alumni Network for supporting and organizing the reception that provided a venue for Rick and his team to meet and interact with the many difference makers in the Canadian Alumni Community in Beijing.
Over the next 11 days, Rick visited Beijing, Shanghai, Shantou and Hong Kong to engage youth, recognize Chinese difference makers in the areas of SCI research for a cure and accessibility, and further partnerships in the areas of research and accessibility through a series of collaborative agreements.
About The Canadian Alumni Network (CAN):
The Canadian Alumni Network (CAN) is a non-profit, volunteer-based group of 26 alumni chapter representatives, that continues to bring mutual support to alumni chapter representatives in China, develop synergy and opportunities for currently 1300 alumni in Beijing and over 3000 alumni in China. The CAN is fostering public awareness that Canadian post-secondary institutions have an influential alumni network in China. Please join the network today through the two main social media sites, Facebook and Linkedin.
Please also visit http://www.canadiansinchina.com
About the Rick Hansen Foundation:
The Rick Hansen Foundation is a registered charitable organization that provides leadership to create more accessible and inclusive communities for people with a spinal cord injury, and supports the search for a cure while accelerating progress to a more healthy and inclusive world. The Foundation achieves its goals by connecting the people and resources that make innovation possible. Please visit www.rickhansen.com for more information.
About the Rick Hansen Foundation’s 25th Anniversary:
The Rick Hansen Foundation is currently celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour, and the extraordinary progress that has been made in the fields of accessibility and spinal cord injury advancement. Over the two year anniversary period (March 21, 2010 – May 22, 2012) a number of programs and events will be unveiled to inspire others to dream big, recognize difference makers, create lasting and sustainable legacies and change the world, one good turn at a time.
Click here for the inspirational 25th Anniversary video.