‘Wheels in Action’ to Raise Awareness, Funds for Spinal Cord Injury

June 12, 2012 - News Release

The University of Guelph will host Guelph “Wheels in Action” June 17 to raise money, support and awareness for people with spinal cord injuries (SCI).

The event will begin at noon at the University’s Athletics Centre; registration starts at 10:30 a.m.

Wheels in Action is a Guelph spin on the annual Wheels in Motion event started by Olympic wheelchair champion Rick Hansen and held by U of G since 2004.

“We are still very proud of our relationship with the Rick Hansen Foundation, but we are also happy to bring the focus of the Wheels in Action event to our Guelph community and the amazing folks that live here,” said Cyndy McLean, director of the Health and Performance Centre, who brought the original Wheels event to Guelph.

The event will feature three people with SCI who have ties to U of G and Guelph: U of G student Drew Cumpson, Guelph graduate Sandra Burton and resident Jesse Redden.

Cumpson was injured on the last day of a two-week volunteer trip to Peru in May 2011. Now paralyzed from the neck down, he draws support from many friends who hold fundraisers and whose “Our Drew” Facebook page claims more than 700 members.

Burton suffered a spinal cord injury just 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 and made media headlines earlier this year when she gave birth to twin girls.

A car accident led to an incomplete spinal cord injury for Redden, now 23 years old. Initially in a Hamilton hospital, he is now completing rehabilitation in Guelph, including taking part in the SpinFit exercise program at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. He can now walk with assistance.

Before Sunday’s event, local school teachers and 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. Stephanie Clarke, a U of G graduate and Grade 4 teacher at Paisley Road Public School, and student Jenica Centurione will spend the day in wheelchairs.

Guelph Wheels in Action will include a 2½-kilometre walk-roll-run, wheelchair activities, a free barbecue, entertainment and children’s activities. Participants collect pledges individually or as a team. The Canadian Disability Resource Council (a registered charitable organization) will help process pledges and donations in person and online, and will provide tax receipts for donations of $20 or more.

“This is a great way to celebrate Father’s Day by wheeling, biking, skating, running or walking through the beautiful University of Guelph campus,” said McLean, a former marathon runner who became paraplegic following a 2003 accident.

Half of last year’s proceeds, $4,500, supported the St. Joseph’s SpinFit program, designed for people with SCI. This year, funds will go to local programs and initiatives for people with SCI.

Wheels in Action and Wheels in Motion have helped raise nearly $160,000 locally to support numerous programs for Guelph-area people with SCI. Projects include new wheelchairs and adaptive equipment, a ceiling track lift system for KidsAbility, fitness equipment for the Victoria Road Recreation Centre, and an adjustable medical table for U of G’s Student Health Services.

To donate or for more information, visit the Guelph Wheels in Action website, http://guelphwheelsinaction.ca/.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or shiona@uoguelph.ca.

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