Wheels in Motion Set to Roll Sunday

June 14, 2010 - News Release

The seventh annual Wheels in Motion will be held at the University of Guelph June 20. Started by Olympic wheelchair champion Rick Hansen, the event raises money and support for people with spinal cord injury. It begins at noon at the University's W.F. Mitchell Athletics Centre (registration starts at 10:30 a.m.). There will be a 2.5-kilometre walk-roll-run, a wheelchair relay challenge, a free barbecue, entertainment and activities for children.

“In the past six years, we have raised more than $125,000 and inspired hundreds of people to make a difference,” said Cyndy McLean, director of U of G’s Health and Performance Centre and a Wheels in Motion team leader.

“It’s an incredible accomplishment, and I am so proud of this community,” said McLean, a former marathon runner who became paraplegic following a 2003 accident and was instrumental in bringing Wheels in Motion to Guelph in 2004.

Before Sunday’s event, a U of G leader and local high school students will highlight the fundraiser and the challenges faced by people living with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities by spending time in wheelchairs.

Prof. Rich Moccia, U of G’s associate vice-president (research) agri-food and partnerships, will do his job from a wheelchair on Tuesday. “I was honoured to be asked to do this to support friends and colleagues who have suffered debilitating injuries and to raise awareness of the huge challenges they face every day,” he said.

“I’m sure that I will also have a better understanding of the things I and so many others take for granted, such as the ability to move about without facing physical and emotional barriers.”

On Wednesday, students from St. James High School will spend the afternoon on campus in wheelchairs. They will visit the University Centre, the library and athletic facilities. “This all came together because their teacher was reading them a book about a wheelchair rugby player who is quadriplegic,” said McLean. “The students are really pumped about it.”

She added that such initiatives help raise both awareness and understanding. “Sitting down in a wheelchair and attempting common chores and errands gives those who don’t regularly use a wheelchair an appreciation of the challenges faced by those with mobility disabilities.”

Wheels in Motion participants collect pledges either individually or as a team. More than half of the net funds raised stay in the greater Guelph community to support high-priority needs and services; the rest goes to fund national spinal cord research. Last year, the money was used to buy new wheelchairs and adaptive equipment for individuals and a ceiling track lift system for KidsAbility, which provides therapy services for special-needs children.

The honorary chair of this year’s event is U of G graduate Sandra Burton, who suffered a spinal cord injury right before her 18th birthday. She graduated from Guelph with a child studies degree in 1998 and earned a master's degree in speech language therapy. She is now a speech pathologist for preschoolers.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1