It has become common place to hear of people deciding to do fundraisers in order to champion a cause. The goals are usually to raise funds and awareness for a cause that has impacted them, either by throwing a fundraising event like a party or dance, or by organizing an activity like a run or hockey game, or for the truly ambitious a solo or team endeavour like a cross country run.
The greats, like Terry Fox, come to mind. Rick Hansen is another. They not only managed to raise funds, but to champion their causes and to raise the profile of their illness to heights that were unimagined when they started.
There was a story about Rick Hansen, and his Man in Motion tour from 1986 in the news this last week, and his gesture to gift one of his gloves used in the tour to propel his wheelchair to the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa. Rick Hansen was tremendously successful raising funds but he was even more successful raising awareness of the struggles of handicapped Canadians. Hi glove, with its wear and tear, represents the struggle faced by handicapped Canadians.
Many things that we consider normal today (ramps into public buildings, lifts, accessible sidewalks and public places) weren’t even on the radar when Rick began his crusade. It’s hard to believe what a fight he had to have people understand that inclusivity was a human rights issue. Today we simply take it for granted.
Rick Hansen had a very clever approach to the tour. He wheeled him self from community to community where he met with dignitaries and the public raising awareness. Inevitably almost each community he arrived at had prepared a venue that was not accessible to him and his wheel chair. Through this he was successful at shaming the organizers and host cities, and forcing the change we now take for granted.