Rick Hansen

“One of my biggest dreams is to support SCI research and to help find a cure for paralysis. It’s incredible to see that Dalhousie’s Brain Repair Centre is on the leading edge of research. It’s the result of their researchers’ and those around the world’s tireless work in continuing to ask important questions and pursuing new discoveries that will eventually unlock the vital keys to innovations that will allow the spinal cord to repair and recover its full function. While we hold out hope for a cure, it’s vital that we continue to live life to the fullest. Every day is a gift!” – Rick Hansen, Founder Rick Hansen Foundation

On Wednesday, May 15th, the DMRF team, Dalhousie Faculty members, donors, and researchers from Dalhousie's Brain Repair Centre gathered to meet Canadian icon, Dr. Rick Hansen. Rick was visiting Halifax to receive an honorary degree from Mount Saint Vincent University and to further his advocacy for those with disabilities. We were thrilled Rick took the time to meet with us, share his story as well as stay to hear about leading-edge and internationally acclaimed neuroscience research taking place at Dalhousie. Drs. Sean Christie and Vic Rafuse gave presentations about their pioneering work. 

Rick has dedicated his life to awakening the world to the potential of people with disabilities. He is known as the “Man In Motion” for undertaking an epic 26 month, 40,000 km journey around the world in his wheelchair. Rick is also a three-time world champion, nine-time Pan Am gold medalist, and six-time Paralympic medalist. 

He is the Founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to creating an inclusive world where people with disabilities are living to their full potential. For over three decades, Rick and his team have been focused on the removal of barriers. 

Currently, Rick and the Foundation are rethinking how people of all ages and abilities access spaces where we live, work, learn and play. The Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) is the only program that rates, certifies and showcases accessible buildings.

While Rick visited with DMRF, he heard about Dalhousie’s Brain Repair Centre and a pioneering international research partnership that has been created to advance research in neuroscience. The Brain Repair Centre is a firm example of the groundbreaking research taking place at Dalhousie. This nationally recognized centre is committed to fundamental science, clinical research, drug, and technology development. It serves as a neuro-research hub in Atlantic Canada, uniting academics, disciplines, government agencies, and community groups across the region to work toward a common goal. Research clusters in the areas of traumatic brain injury, neurodegeneration, and neurodevelopment bring together experts from this region and around the world. These world-class researchers work collaboratively to find solutions to the many conditions and diseases related to the brain. 

That’s why DMRF is actively fundraising to support an international partnership between Dalhousie University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The Canada-Israel Trans-Atlantic Collaboration for Brain Studies is a relationship that will combine the strength of two powerhouse research enterprises:  Dalhousie’s Brain Repair Centre and the BGU Brain Trust.  

This exciting, new international medical research partnership will see two leading-edge institutions bridging geographical boundaries in search of better ways to study the human brain. The partnership will establish a collaborative effort that will help close the knowledge gap in key areas of brain disorders, by creating the opportunity for students and researchers at both institutions to collaborate and share knowledge, resources and data.  

After hearing from Drs. Rafuse and Christie of the Brain Repair Centre, Dr. Hansen shared his story, along with his advocacy and his aspirations for neuroscience research. We are grateful for Rick's time and his inspiring journey!