Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Rick Hansen's legacy hanging in the balance; he needs to address it ASAP

It has been five days now since the Vancouver Sun ran an investigative story on the Rick Hansen Foundation. (I have a link to it at the end of the post.) I feel I should write something … that I should have an opinion of what has been said. Because I consider him a friend: we met in 1979 when he was playing wheelchair basketball and I was a rookie reporter, and then I covered the Man in Motion World Tour for a total of three months for the Edmonton Journal.  Still, I don’t know what to say.
Hansen in Edmonton last March // PHOTO: Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal

Hansen is a Canadian hero. His tour, which began on a shoestring budget in 1985, created a multi-million dollar corporation. And that’s where the story is. Vancouver Sun reporter David Baines is known for his investigative work. Some say he’s the best investigative reporter in Vancouver. So for him to take on Hansen in a 4,100 word piece is, by itself, a statement. Haines allegations are quite alarming — even to me.

David Baines,  Vancouver Sun

I have always known Hansen as a man who faces challenges head on. It’s surprising to me he declined to be interviewed for the story. There was an e-mail exchange but, according to Haines answers were not short, or not answered at all. I cannot even begin to wonder why that is. But I know this: he has to respond to the story. And, soon. Because if he doesn’t, public perception will run rampant and the assumptions will start. Hansen’s legacy is in peril right now. Only he can change that. I guess a hero’s work is never done.


  1. Yes, he has to answer. People have tried to get answers on their funding of research for years and the Foundation has flat out refused. Their lack of response now is of no surprise. Perhaps the most important thing to take away at this point is the re-evaluation of hero worshipping when it comes to donations and public tax payer money. David Baines has been uncovering white collar crime and stock fraud in particular, for the past 23 years. He has an MBA from the University of Western Ontario and has won four National Newspaper Awards, a National Magazine Award and four Jack Webster Awards. The Sun columnist has written 3,887 stories in the past 25 years, nearly all about people who tried to take unfair advantage of others. The Rick Hansen Foundation was hardly singled out for no reason. The blubbering admirers should start to understand the huge amount of waste and squander that has happened with the citizens tax paid money. Health Canada owes THE PEOPLE an investigation and changes made to the funding that's blindly given to self serving initiatives that are not carried out or reviewed properly. This entire situation is an outrage and begging for government intervention. Considering the millions that have been trashed for nothing, it's no wonder the people suffering from paralysis are angry and disgusted. Thank goodness for investigative reporters like David Baine that bring situations like this to the public's attention so something can be done to stop it. If people insist on stroking Mr. Hansen's ego the taxpayer's millions will continue to finance thin air. It's time for this to stop and real funding to actually make it into legitimate labs for paralysis research. You won't hear any sobbing over the public disclosure or hero worshiping from me. The facts are the facts.

  2. cam tait - your alarmed??..i would like to know as an SCI PWD in BC how rick hansen's mom went from living in moblie home in a trailer park in williams lake before Rick hansen's around the world holiday, to a waterfront mansion on the sunshine coast??..i cant even get a mortgage for a home in quesnel bc! thats alarming!!!

  3. So the Rick Hansen Foundation refuses to comment on the Vancouver Sun's story about their spending habits. As someone who has dealt with the Rick Hansen Foundation for two years, I am totally un surprised.

    I work with paralysed activists from all around the world to hasten a cure for chronic spinal cord injury and one of the big spinal cord injury (SCI) organisations we've dealt with is the Rick Hansen Foundation and Institute.

    Our concern was that even though they raised money with slogans about 'cure' and, we didn't see any investment. So we asked a few simple questions about cure spending past and future. We asked this on numerous occasions and never once received an answer with figures.

    Therefore I was not surprised at all when they refused to answer questions about this article. In my opinion, I don't think it because they are trying to hide anything (the facts speak for themselves), but because of sheer arrogance. Rick Hansen doesn't believe that ANYONE had the right to question any of the work they do.

    Lack of transparency is not just a financial issue, but it also destroys hope. I know many who have donated on the basis that RHF was working to cure paralysis. After our questions and this recent article, they felt robbed of not just money but hope.

    I don't need an apology, I would prefer that they put the past behind them and start spending responsibly on people's hopes to get us out of our chairs or that money goes to a new organisation that will.

  4. Simple as the man uses his disability he generate sympathy out to the masses to live a lavish a lifestyle .. while ppl are struggling with life threatening disabilities mental illness, depression (them) i speak for who are living On welfare in a one bedroom room.. Yes, not even enough money to buy food, or basic essentials.. try to live on 50 bucks for food a month Mr.Hansen..