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1619Rick Hansen Relay cruises through Leamington: 'It was exhilarating'

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  • RICHARD PIET
    Nov 20, 2011
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      Rick Hansen Relay cruises through Leamington: 'It was exhilarating'

       
       
      By Dylan Kristy, The Windsor StarNovember 20, 2011 10:05 PMtrue
       
       
       

      Mary McKeen dances along Ivan Street in Leamington as part of the the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay in Leamington on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2011. McKeen was among nine medal-bearers in Leamington Sunday who participated in the country-wide relay.

      Photograph by: Dylan Kristy, The Windsor Star

      LEAMINGTON, Ont. -- Though she was one of 7,000, Mary McKeen had one person in mind as she completed her leg of the Rick Hansen Relay.
      “This was all for my sister,” McKeen said Sunday. “I’m here to show that anyone with a disability can overcome it and, hopefully, it brings about awareness to others in terms of providing whatever they can to those with disabilities.”
      McKeen, whose sister Cora Beekveld is deaf and has paralysis on her right side, was one of nine medal bearers in Leamington who walked, ran and danced as the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay entered Essex County on Sunday.
      The relay kicked off on Aug. 24 in Cape Spear, N.L., and is stretching across more than 12,000 kilometres and through more than 600 communities before finishing in Vancouver, B.C., on May 22.
      The relay is set to mimic the cross-country trek Hansen undertook with his legendary Man in Motion Tour in 1985 but, instead of focusing on one individual, this event is focusing on 7,000 people who have “made their own difference in the lives of others.”
      McKeen was the first medal bearer in Leamington and was joined by her family and sister Cora as they danced their way along 250 metres of Ivan Street.
      “It was exhilarating” McKeen exclaimed after finishing her portion of relay.
      “As short lived as it may be, it was quite exciting and it’s phenomenal to be a part of.”
      The relay made its way from Ivan Street south on Erie Street before cutting over along Georgia Avenue and ending at the Kinsmen Recreation Complex.
      After a day’s rest, the relay will pick up on Tuesday and make its way through Ruthven, Kingsville, Essex and LaSalle before concluding in Windsor.
      The man in motion, Rick Hansen, will not be present during the next few weeks of the relay and will not be in Essex County.
      “There are two great messages you can take from the man in motion world tour and the first is that one person can make a difference,” said Jamie Levchuck, director of the Rick Hansen Relay.
      “Rick showed us that one person with courage and determination can make a difference and the second thing ... is that we all have the ability to pay it forward and find ways to thank people.”
      The final medal bearer on Sunday was Ontario Provincial Police Const. Kevin O’Neil, who helped provide a police escort for Hansen during his original cross-country trek through Saskatchewan.
      “There were a lot of people who were just as deserving and just a worthy as me but this is pretty awesome,” O’Neil said after the relay.
      To mark the closing of the 89th day of the relay, O’Neil took the medal off his neck and placed it in a cedar box which will be passed on to the next medal bearer on Tuesday.
      Since Hansen’s original goal was to make the world more accessible and to find a cure for spinal cord injury. More than $250 million has been raised through the Rick Hansen Foundation.
      For more information, or to see a detailed map of the relay route, visit www.rickhansenrelay.com.
      © Copyright (c) The Windsor Star
       
       
      Rick Hansen Relay director Jamie Levchuk speaks at the closing event for day 89 at the Leamington Kinsmen Recreation Complex
on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2011. Kevin O'Neil, who stands in the background, was among nine medal-bearers in Leamington Sunday who participated in the country-wide relay.
       

      Rick Hansen Relay director Jamie Levchuk speaks at the closing event for day 89 at the Leamington Kinsmen Recreation Complex on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2011. Kevin O'Neil, who stands in the background, was among nine medal-bearers in Leamington Sunday who participated in the country-wide relay.

      Photograph by: Dylan Kristy, The Windsor Star

       
       
      Leamington OPP Const. Kevin O'Neil closes day 89 of the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay in Leamington on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2011. O'Neil was one of nine medal-bearers in Leamington Sunday who participated in the country-wide relay.
       

      Leamington OPP Const. Kevin O'Neil closes day 89 of the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay in Leamington on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2011. O'Neil was one of nine medal-bearers in Leamington Sunday who participated in the country-wide relay.

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      Danica Gorell hands off the Rick Hansen relay medal to Leamington OPP Const. Kevin O'Neil during the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay in Leamington on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2011. Gorell and O'Neil were among nine medal-bearers in Leamington Sunday who participated in the country-wide relay.
       

      Danica Gorell hands off the Rick Hansen relay medal to Leamington OPP Const. Kevin O'Neil during the 25th Anniversary Rick Hansen Relay in Leamington on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2011. Gorell and O'Neil were among nine medal-bearers in Leamington Sunday who participated in the country-wide relay.


       
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