Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 13, 2005

Staff Member Named Rick Hansen Ambassador

A University of Guelph staff member has been selected to take part in the Rick Hansen Foundation’s national Ambassador Program to raise awareness about living with spinal cord injuries.

Cyndy McLean, director of the Health and Performance Centre, will speak to community agencies, schools, clubs and other local organizations as an ambassador. She will share her experiences and challenges, promote education and research, and encourage involvement in Wheels in Motion fundraising events.

“I was involved in an accident that forever changed my life,” says McLean, a former marathon runner and elite-level athlete who suffered a fall in 2003 and is now paraplegic. “I hope to use my experiences to reach out to others and to educate people about prevention, the need for research and the challenges of living with a spinal cord injury,” she says.

About 84 per cent of spinal cord injuries happen to people under 34, so health care and equipment over a lifetime can cost millions of dollars, she says. McLean also stresses the importance of research, pointing out that about 90 per cent of what is known about spinal cord injuries has been discovered in the past decade.

The Ambassador Program is part of the Rick Hansen Foundation, which was created in 1988 by the Canadian Olympic wheelchair marathon champion who wheeled 40,000 kilometres to raise money for research and services. The foundation brings together researchers, service providers and people with spinal cord injuries.

Wheels in Motion is one of the foundation’s main fundraising initiatives. People walk, roll, wheel or run to raise funds and awareness for spinal cord injuries. Events are held in hundreds of communities across Canada. Guelph’s event is scheduled for June 12 at the university’s Mitchell Athletics Centre. It’s organized by U of G, Guelph Services for Persons With Disabilities, the City of Guelph and community volunteers.

To arrange a free speaking engagement with McLean, call Guelph Services for Persons With Disabilities at 836-1812, Ext. 35.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, Ext. 56982.

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