OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 22, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced today the appointment of Mr. Rick Hansen as Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Forces (CF) Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU), an organization that offers dedicated programs and services to support serving and retired ill and injured military personnel, as well as their families, and the families of those who lost their lives while serving.
"We are truly honoured to have such a remarkable person as Mr. Rick Hansen join our military family by accepting this important appointment," said Minister MacKay. "I have no doubt that he will continue to be an inspiration to all our men and women in uniform and their families who find the strength to face the tremendous challenges that come with their situation and for their desire to recover and live accomplished lives in the face of adversity."
Rick Hansen, a renowned Canadian Athlete and founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Rick Hansen Institute, grew up in small-town British Columbia with a single dream: to one day represent Canada at the Olympic Games. But at the age of 15, he was thrown from the back of a pick-up truck, paralyzing him from the waist down. Unwilling to give up on his love for sport and fortified with a new dream, Hansen became the first person with a disability to graduate from the University of British Columbia with a degree in physical education. Ten years later, he set off on his Man In Motion World Tour, travelling 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries and raising $26 million for spinal cord research.
Upon returning home from his epic journey he founded the Rick Hansen Foundation, which has raised more than $252 million to help find a cure for spinal cord injury and to build an accessible, inclusive society for all Canadians. Hansen was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1987. He is also a member of the Order of British Columbia, a recipient of the Diamond Jubilee Medal and one of Canada's most decorated Paralympic athletes.
Minister MacKay's decision to appoint Mr. Hansen as Honourary Colonel of the CF Joint Personnel Support Unit was met with absolute delight by Rear-Admiral Andy Smith, Chief Military Personnel. "Mr. Hansen's life-long devotion to making a difference in how people with a disability are perceived, and his ability to inspire them to move forward is truly fitting to one of the main priorities of the Canadian Forces, that of caring for our own," said Rear-Admiral Smith. "I'm convinced this extraordinary individual will do great things for our deserving people and for their families. We could not have appointed a better person to this position."
"I am absolutely thrilled and humbled to be appointed Honorary Colonel of the JPSU." said Mr. Hansen. "I look forward to sharing my own experiences with all JPSU members, their families and the families of our men and women who lost their lives in service of Canada," he added. "My goal in accepting this honour is to provide some encouragement to those faced with life-changing challenges. We each have the power within in us to take small steps to overcome extreme obstacles. When we have hope, we have possibility."
As an Honorary Colonel, Mr. Hansen's role will be to help foster morale within his unit, help build relationships through the honorary colonel network and ensure that the customs and traditions of the CF are maintained. The Minister of National Defence, on the recommendation of the Chief of the Defence Staff, is the approving authority for all appointments. Tenures are normally for a period of three years.