While Terry Fox was running across Canada to raise cancer awareness and research support he said, “Even if I don’t finish, we need others to keep going.”
Steve Fonyo, a teen was inspired by Terry Fox and wanted to complete Terry Fox’s vision of a run across Canada to raise money for cancer. He also was an amputee due to cancer. He started five years after Terry at age 18 and he did it in 1985, raising $14 million for Cancer and cancer research. Today Steve Fonyo was stripped of the Order of Canada for his conduct: his charges of driving under the influence, prison time in rehab for cocaine addiction and other ‘non-heroic’ achievements. We are more like a family than a country, hypocrites, and loving the one son while hating the other.
What they omit is that in 1986 Steve Fonyo went on to run Great Britain from the North tip to the South as another marathon to raise money for Cancer. Fonyo wasn’t charismatic, he wasn’t a celebrity like Rick Hansen the world travelling wheelchair Paralympic gold winner, Pan Am multi-medal winner (photo here) and marathoner. Fonyo was labeled a ‘copycat’ and often criticized, while enduring hardship and by showing the same determination as Terry Fox (the ‘hero’ who endured close hits by truckers, snow, who told people NOT to run with him, had angry arguments for days with his best friend and swore like a logger). Fonyo even had his Red Cross sponsorship funding pulled for that determination when running through snow in the prairies. Why? No one wants to dare the implication they funded someone to endanger their heath. Yeah, Red Cross, because running a marathon a day is good for you?
Meanwhile, Rick Hansen, who incorporated himself (literally, he is kind of like a church), announced his ‘Man in Motion’ world tour with the emphasis on his inspiration from Terry Fox (who was conveniently not around to tell stories of Rick being an ass). And he did this on the back of Fonyo, once it became apparent that Fonyo would make it (about 2 months from his finish at the Pacific Ocean). Rick was competitive and liked being in the limelight. He knew how to make a good press conference, and had camera presence and experience, and knew how to keep being in the limelight from his years as a world class athlete. Smart enough not to wheel across Canada while Steve Fonyo completed Terry Fox’s goal, Hansen and his ‘team’ (support but also media and photo op personell) took off.
Rick Hansen’s press conference had more people (click here to see) than the crowd to see Steve Fonyo, who had run almost 10,000 km to dip his toe in the pacific at mile zero.
The statue erected at mile Zero though, was of Terry Fox, who while inspiring it, never made it there.
So after the UK, Steve Fonyo gets the Order of Canada. He has run 15,000 km+, raised millions for charity, given up years of his life and….now what? Well, ‘what’ means finding a job, so he became a mechanic, up in rough BC (where oddly Rick and Terry both came from). No statue, just young and tired.
Rick Hansen meanwhile arrives back a hero, and while Fonyo fixed cars and drank, Hansen made himself into a ‘foundation’, which reads like a mix between a dictator’s press release and a meglomaniac, online here (Hope and Inspiration is found under ‘The Hansen Effect’). Rick does not get touched, he touches others: he raises the hand of a teen in a wheelchair during a motivation speech (under the section ‘Hope and Inspiration’), he sits in the limelight as the header for the eight lesson plans for kids 9 and up, like lesson one, ‘Wheeling against the World’s Weather’ where kids as step one ‘listen to the Rick Hansen story’ and the aim is: “Students will appreciate the magnitude of Rick and his team’s achievements during the Man In Motion World Tour.” Did Steve Fonyo like the irony that the very weather that had his funding slashed is now a testament to ‘appreciate the difficulties…’ Rick Hansen faced? Not so much. Steve, did cocaine, and yeah, burned out. If you have already run for years, and raised millions and they put up another person as a statue where YOU finished, and Rick Hansen is being paid to BE Rick Hansen and travel around the world while you fix cars, where do you go that is up? There were some driving under the influence, and cocaine.
What they don't tell is that Steve Fonyo'a Order of Canada couldn’t have been removed earlier. So why now? Because over 20 years after his accomplishment, in 2005 in order to try and get rid of an disbarred and corrupt lawyer, new ‘codes of conduct’ were not passed to get people OUT of the order of Canada. And of course, with the Olympics in Vancouver ('The World Comes to BC!'), where Steve, Terry and Rick are all from there are expectations.
Rick has just be made the co-mayor of the Olympic Village, while the organizers, against everything that Terry Fox stood for, announced a Terry Fox Award to be given at the 2010 Olympic games for “created to honour the Olympic athlete from any country who displays the most courage, humility and extraordinary athletic ability at the 2010 Winter Games.” In gagging irony it will be given the second to last day to an Able Bodied athlete. And Steve Fonyo, the mechanic and not beloved son? Why he gets ‘officially’ kicked into non-existence just before the start of the 2010 Olympic games.
While Steve Fonyo gets the shaft, so does Terry Fox, since Terry Fox created the Terry Fox Run, a run that specifically has no entry requirement, no entry fee, no ‘winners’ and NO AWARDS. Nor can any money go to anything but cancer and cancer research as anyone can and is encourage to set up a run (the Terry Fox Organization gives you all the materials and a booklet) “It does not have to be a big event – whether 100 people come out, or just 10, it still leads to progress for cancer research.” Run is actually a misleading word as you can walk, bike, hop, wheel, roller skate, skateboard, or horseride the 1K, 2K, 5K, 10K event. It is about community participation, it is about cancer experiences, remembering, and raising money for cancer research
Wheels in Motion also has a organized run, once which I have protested. Because while it raises money, much like the webpage which has on EVERY page a ‘donate now’ button, including a form on how to give gifts of publicly listed securities in the name of ‘every wheelchair user’ the money goes toward one particular type of wheelchair users; traumatic SCI’s. While Fonyo’s May 29th gets a few laps in school in memory, and Terry Fox gets a run for fun in Sept, Rick Hansen has lesson plan 6: Students will gain a greater appreciation for the magnitude of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour and the incredible achievements Rick and his team accomplished.” The Rick Hansen Foundation announces proudly they raised $55,000 from school programs in three years. And the run has an entry fee, a fee that does NOT go to research, or programs, not even to ones for traumatic spinal cord injuries, it goes for his salary, his wife’s salary and for the cost of fundraising.
The 2008 audit showed that 65% of the money into the foundation went to programs, grants and endeavors. But that 67% of the money coming IN was from provincial and Federal grants. Yes, ALL of the programs under the name of Rick Hansen foundation (including the school program on learning the accomplishments of Rick Hansen) are paid for by the government. So what do the runs, those 'Wheel in Motion' fundraising runs for 'all people in wheelchairs', the other individual fundraising and donations which is 30% annually, pay for? They pay for salaries and for the aggressive fundraising that the organization does. ("Ald. Andre Chabot, Mayor Dave Bronconnier, event co-chair Barry Lindemann, and Ald. Joe Connelly, celebrate their team's hard work in the Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion relay race yesterday. The event raised more than $80,000 benefiting people living with spinal cord injuries") You wheeled/ran for spinal cord injuries, but you paid for Rick Hansen to be….Rick Hansen. And that makes me mad, the people lied to, including those with spinal cord injuries.
The fundraising page looks like any fortune 500 company: ): “We need to be able to attract, retain and motivate a team of highly-qualified individuals to help us continue to succeed, in a very competitive marketplace. The experienced leadership necessary to lead these complex initiatives is part of what makes RHF extraordinary. Our team is responsible for the success of our innovations and resulting impact we are able to have.” Wha? They are a charity right, or do they make advanced electronics?
And learning from Jerry Lewis, they pimp the children. And that is why I protest Rick Hansen, because he does not represent all wheelchair users, does not educate people on wheelchair or disability but he does USE people. He just doesn't educate them, not even to the complexities of Spinal Cord Injuries. His new poster children (seen on every page, right next to the Donate button): Six-year-old Aluki Chupik-Hall (scoliocis) (who had a ‘Rick Hansen Theme’ fifth birthday party) and thirteen year old Hisham Mohammad with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) whose message is ‘be like Rick’ are used to raise funds for traumatic Spinal Cord injuries. No information or education on SMA or childhood scoliocis is given, and misinformation, like when Hisham, with SMA refers to himself as a ‘parapalygic’ like the traumatic break at T10-T12 with Rick Hansen, there is no correction. We are lead to believe this is a mini Rick. Rick Hansen doesn’t have SMA, nor does he fund programs for SMA. However, if your kids are too old for the school lessons they can always go see, the Rick Hansen Play, Rick: the Rick Hansen Story (Ticket sales and school and other performances here).
Do I think Steve Fonyo got the shaft? Yeah. He made human mistakes and he paid for them. But he also raised millions of dollars over 25 years ago that while the only recognition given to him has been stripped away to silence him, the money raised isn’t about to be returned (or honored). I don't think he even gets free tickets to the Olympics? I bet the Mayor Rick Hansen does!
The 2010 Olympics seem to love playing with bodies as they have Terry Fox (who likely wouldn’t have made it into the paralympics and was about participation now having a named award given not to raise cancer, not to raise disability or accessibility awareness, sad that. Nor does it highlight that Canada is in the third DECADE of debating a National Disability Act but Awards celebrating ‘extraordinary athletic ability’: basically the guy who slogged it around with a home made leg doing a hop and step to grit his teeth and go on is created into an award for in-born athletic ability? For Able Bodied Athletes? Ohhh, listen, you can hear the rolling in the grave now!