University of Calgary

Original Man in Motion inspires students

UToday HomeFebruary 28, 2012

By Verity Conrad

Medal bearers Mark Arendz and Christine Nesbitt talk about the relay with Rick Hansen at the Olympic Oval. Photo by Riley Brandt Medal bearers Mark Arendz and Christine Nesbitt talk about the relay with Rick Hansen at the Olympic Oval. Photo by Riley Brandt The University of Calgary community celebrated an exciting milestone on Monday, Feb. 27 by welcoming distinguished Canadian hero Rick Hansen to the Olympic Oval.

Spectators watched long-track speed-skating champion and former student Christine Nesbitt proudly represent the university as medal bearer. Nesbitt was handed the silver medal by Hansen and skated around the Oval amidst applause and shouts of encouragement. It was then passed to University of Calgary student and Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team member Mark Arendz, who looked honored and humbled to stand with Hansen as a representative of the university community.

Speaking to the crowd, Hansen touted words of encouragement and hope. “I have so much respect for the athletes here today and am very happy to see the bridge between the world of sport and athletes with disabilities narrowing.” He also thanked the university and Olympic Oval for hosting the tour and was passionate about the positive impact they both have on the community. “The University of Calgary is pushing the boundaries of research and education,” he said. Hansen remained at the Oval following the event to take photos with fans and speak with special guests.

In honour of the 25th anniversary of the original Man in Motion tour, Hansen and his team have worked their way across the country retracing the historic Canadian-leg of his journey. The relay aims to re-engage communities and participants across Canada to encourage everyone to dream big, recognize difference-makers, create lasting and sustainable legacies and change the world.

Last Thursday, the Rick Hansen Foundation hosted a 25th anniversary gala to benefit his quests for an inclusive society and to find a cure for spinal cord injury. There was a strong University of Calgary presence as Board Chair Doug Black was co-chair of the gala dinner, and Chancellor Jim Dinning emceed the event, recalling memories from the original tour including the inspiration it provoked within areas of leadership and vision.

Alberta is a global leader in spinal cord research and the University of Calgary’s very own Dr. John Hurlbert from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute also spoke at the event. His breakthrough research in a related field will be published next month.

Visit the Rick Hansen Foundation for more information on the Rick Hansen Relay.