After the recent announcement by the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF), I had promised myself that I wouldn't be writing another letter to the newspapers about this group until an email that I sent to the CEO had a chance to be answered. I figured that we were making progress so another fair chance to answer was warranted.
Well, I couldn't let a recently published interview with Mr. Hansen in the High River Times go unanswered.
So without going into further detail, I will let my Letter to the Editor speak for itself and will let you know if and when it's published.
I read your interview with Mr. Rick Hansen, Hansen: Relay a great success so far, with a certain amount of disgust.
Being one of the most well known people in Canada he had a chance to educate people about the breakthroughs being made in central nervous system (CNS) regeneration, i.e., a cure for spinal cord injury (SCI). Instead, he spent his time talking about “wheelchair parking, ramps, and curb cuts.”
He goes on to tell us about those with SCI being, “in politics, media, teaching, and a part of society.” He makes it sound like those of us in chairs have almost got it made and don’t need a cure, just more understanding. But a report done by his own organization, the Rick Hansen Institute, tells us that 60% of those living with SCI are unemployed. Of course Mr. Hansen does state that it’s, “not everyone.” Not everyone? At 60% unemployment, it’s not even half of everyone with SCI.
He calls, “meeting someone in their late-twenties who has a spinal cord injury and to see them in a photo where they were beside me during the original tour (twenty five years ago),” progress. This is not progress but rather the sad evidence of society’s failure to make a cure for SCI a top priority. You cannot cover the world with ramps and curb cuts, real progress for those living with SCI is a cure.
The failure to make this cure possible is not only the fault of Mr. Hansen, but as a man who controls one of the largest SCI organizations in the world and millions in public funds, his words in this interview clearly show why we have not yet achieved a cure.
I ask Mr. Hansen to make a cure for SCI the number one priority of his organizations and to make money available for this end. I would also like him to publicly state the total percentage of funds being spent by his organization to cure spinal cord injury as he has never answered the over 300 people who sent emails sent to RHF asking for this information.
Words are nice, but figures and accomplishments are what count most to us living with SCI.