The Golden McDonalds will be the starting point for the town’s celebration of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay, which will be coming through Golden from April 11 to 13.
“I think it’s pretty exciting. It’s been 25 years since Rick Hansen did his relay, and to be able to be a sponsor I think is wonderful. It was such an amazing accomplishment that he made,” said Dallas Matheson, manager of the Golden McDonalds.
McDonalds Canada, which was a sponsor of Rick Hansen’s original Man in Motion Tour 25 years ago, is a presenting partner for the anniversary relay.
The Rick Hansen Foundation launched the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay on August 24, 2011 in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador.
This time, one Man In Motion will be represented and celebrated by many in motion, as 7,000 participants from across Canada who have made a difference in their own communities and in the lives of others will walk, wheel or run in the nine-month, 12,000 kilometre Relay that retraces the route of Hansen’s original Tour, and concludes in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 22, 2012.
“Difference Makers” have been chosen to carry Hansen’s medal through town, and McDonalds was honoured to be able to nominate two of them.
“Getting to choose difference makers in our community, that was even more exciting. To think about who you thought inspired you, and who you thought the community could look up to, was a great experience for me,” said Matheson.
“I didn’t want to just pick two people, I really wanted it to be somebody who the community would understand why they’re difference makers.”
The two medal-bearers chosen by McDonalds are 21-year-old Matthew Grace, and Kicking Horse Culture’s Bill Usher.
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“Eight years ago Matthew was diagnosed with a nebular brain tumor. And it left him blind, a quadriplegic, and on a ventilator. This kid is inspiring,” said Matheson.
“He loves hockey, and the Rockets made him an official Rocket, and he’s dropped the puck at their games. He graduated from high school, and he’s taking university courses. Even though he can’t speak or walk, he has a spirit that I admire. And he and his parents don’t let his disabilities or his illness identify who he is. They’re so positive.” Usher was nominated by McDonalds because of his relentless passion and commitment to this community. “He was the driving force behind the new Civic Centre, a place that really brings our community together. That was his vision, and if it wasn’t for him and his passion, that project might not have gone forward,” said Matheson.
Other difference makers in Golden are Ruben Hobrecht, Kamber Archibald-Lacasse, Shea Archibald-Lacasse, Alyssa Denis, Emily Baadsvik, Mike Hull, Troy Durand, and Christopher Hambruch.
The medal will be arriving at McDonalds on the Trans Canada Highway at 3 p.m. on Wednesday April 11 where there will be a celebration. The restaurant will be decorated, there will be a Rick Hansen medal display. And Ronald McDonald, Birdie and the Hamburgler will be there to help celebrate.
And then Grace will carry the medal out of McDonalds, beginning its journey to the Spirit Square, where the town will be holding a ceremony.
“We invite the community to come celebrate with us, and the accomplishments of not only our difference makers, but of Rick Hansen and the Rick Hansen Foundation,” said Matheson.
The Rick Hansen Relay will have travelled through more than 600 communities, before it concludes its nine-month journey. Its aim is to recognize local difference makers, raise awareness about accessibility and inspire a new generation to take action.
“I think it’s history, and I think it’s something that we need to teach our kids. I have a 10-year-old, and I’m going to take her out of school so that she realizes that this is a big moment,” said Matheson.
“We had just moved to Golden when it went through 25 years ago. And it’s one more thing where people get to say ‘I remember, and I was there when it went through.’ And we’re lucky that Dan has made the commitment to have it stop here and make it a celebration.”