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County residents among ‘many in motion’ to make a difference

Prince Edward County and Belleville "difference makers" on stage at the Wally Dever Arena.

Prince Edward County residents are among 7,000 “difference makers” selected to run, walk or wheel with Rick Hansen as he makes his way across Canada.
The Rick Hansen Relay is the 25th anniversary of Hansen’s Man in Motion Cross-Canada Tour and spans 12,000 kms through 600 communities. While Hansen is present at a number of cities and stops along the relay, it is the 7,000 medal bearers who will complete the tour.
The “difference makers” were selected as people who have made their own difference in the lives of others. They pass the Rick Hansen Medal from one bearer to the next in a focus of engaging Canadians to become catalysts for positive change.
Among medal bearers on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 were Prince Edward County residents Reema Abdo, Catherine Kinnear, John McLaughlin, Blair Welbanks and Ken Rushlow.
Belleville’s stop marked the 20,000 mile mark and Hansen told the crowd at the Wally Dever Arena “we’re down the home stretch and I am supported by so many amazing people.
“In many ways, 25 years later, we’re here celebrating, not the end of the Man in Motion tour, but the beginning of a long journey of  Canadians working to make communities more accessible and inclusive for all,” Hansen said. “And thousands of people across this country and around the world have picked up that challenge and interpreted it in their own way. They believe that a healthy and inclusive community starts with local citizens who care combine their passion and talent and care enough to make a difference.
“What better way could we support and represent the 25th anniversary of the Man in Motion Tour than to re-trace the original route and have ‘Many in Motion’ – 7,000 Canadians from coast-to-coast who have made a difference, allowing me to say thank you to this great country.”
He implored the crowd to continue to remove barriers, to continue to do our part to make this world a healthier, more inclusive place to live and that Canada plays a world role in making a difference.”
Reema Abdo took part in a Kingston leg of the relay. A former backstroke swimmer, Abdo competed for Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and won a bronze medal in the 4×100 medley relay.

Rick Hansen with the relay medal and Catherine and Gabby Kinnear, at right.

Catherine Kinnear first saw the Man in Motion in Kingston at LaSalle High School. She told organizers about her daughter Gabrielle’s big heart and how she makes a difference at the tender age of five.
In memory of people she has never met, she raised funds and walked for 10 hours during the County’s first Relay for Life event and was back on the track this June even though she had her tonsils and adnoids out just ahead of the Cancer Society fundraising event. She has also walked in two Breast Cancer events in Kingston.
“She has a heart of gold,” Catherine told Rick Hansen Relay organizers. “I think this would be an incredible experience for her as she is always wanting to help others and to see her mommy wanting to help as well.  I have been lucky enough to have great health but my daughter has proved she is a fighter from the start as she was born at 35 weeks weighing just 4lbs, 11oz and today is a healthy five-year-old.”

Ken Rushlow was instrumental in getting a wheelchair lift installed at a local school in 1996 and a wheelchair ramp at Wellington’s new gazebo. He attended Loyalist College’s Broadcast Journalism course and won the CanWest Global Broadcaster of the Future Award for a Canadian with a Disability. The college made renovations to its production facilities to accommodate Ken and future wheelchair users in the program. Ken is also a member of the Wellington Elks Lodge, fundraising and supporting his community, especially for those with a disability.

In 1985, Rick Hansen pushed his wheelchair out of  Vancouver, B.C. and set out on a journey that would make history. His lengendary Man in Motion World Tour spanned more than 40,000 km through 34 countries; took more than two years to complete; and raised more than $26 million for spinal cord injury.
Following a car crash at the age of 15, Rick sustained a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the waist down. Forced to define a new life for himself, Rick never hesitated to challenge society’s perceptions about what is possible for anyone with big dreams and the passion to see them through.
Today, he is still a Man in Motion. As president and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, he remains committed to making communities more accessible and inclusive. The Foundation has generated more than $200 million for spinal cord injury related programs and initiatives.

Medal Bearer Ken Rushlow, of Wellington, en route with other County residents in support, including Ontario Elks Provincial President and Wellington Elk Ron Hough.

Catherine and Gabby Kinnear pass the relay medal to Karen Kitchen, co-chair of the Belleville event and final medal bearer of day 69.


Rick Hansen with Ken and Karen Rushlow, of Wellington.

Rick Hansen with Prince Edward County residents Gabrielle Kinnear, Catherine Ingram-Kinnear and Kelly Ingram-Stock.

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