Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
June 07, 2005
Wheels in Motion Set to Roll at U of G
During the past year, Leo Song, a networking analyst in the University of Guelph’s Computing and Communications Services, has learned what it means to live with a spinal cord injury. His six-year-old son, Terry, was critically injured in an automobile accident that left him paraplegic. Now Song is hoping to educate others and to raise money for research by participating in Wheels in Motion June 12 at U of G.
The event will be held at the W. F. Mitchell Athletics Centre from noon to 2 p.m. (registration starts at 11 a.m.) Participants obtain pledges individually or as part of a team and then wheel, bike, skate, run or walk a three- to five- kilometre course. Half of the funds raised stay in the host community to address high-priority needs and services, and the remaining funds go to support research.
Wheels in Motion is an initiative of the Rick Hansen Foundation, created in 1988 by the Canadian Olympic wheelchair marathon champion after he wheeled 40,000 kilometres to raise money and awareness for spinal cord research. Events are held in hundreds of communities across Canada.
Participants at the Guelph event will include president Alastair Summerlee and Guelph mayor Kate Quarrie. It’s organized by U of G, Guelph Service for Persons with Disabilities, the City of Guelph and other community volunteers, including Rick Hansen Ambassador Cyndy McLean, director of the university’s Health and Performance Centre. McLean, a former marathon runner and elite-level athlete, was left paraplegic after a fall in 2003.
Song says that taking part in Wheels in Motion is part of his family’s advocacy efforts. “People don’t fully realize what a spinal cord injury means. It’s very complicated, and there are a lot of things that are very frustrating,” he said. Locally, there is a need for improved services and education, especially for children with spinal cord injuries, he said. About 84 per cent of spinal cord injuries happen to people under age 34, so health care and equipment over a lifetime can cost millions of dollars.
On a national and international level, there is a crucial need for more research and increased financial support. “A lot of people are doing incredible research on spinal cord injury in Europe, Asia and North America,” Song said, adding that about 90 per cent of what is known about spinal cord injuries has been discovered in the past decade.