I first met Rick Hansen when I was researching my script for the TV movie, TERRY. Rick had played wheelchair basketball with Terry Fox and had some great stories to tell. I felt an immediate connection with Rick, for one of my core goals as a writer has been to empower people with the possibility of change—for themselves and the society they live in. Rick Hansen is the embodiment of that goal. So when I was asked to write a play about him, I jumped at the chance.
What makes Rick so inspirational is his heartfelt and deep-rooted humanity. He has come to view his condition as a gift—it forced him to push himself to his limits, allowed him to fully explore his potential, and put him in a position to share those discoveries with millions of people. And in so doing, he’s helped transform the world’s attitude toward the “disabled” and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for spinal cord research.
The challenge for me was how to tell the story of a living legend. So I decided to look at what made him…and through a series of interviews I had with Rick and his best friend from school days, Don Alder, a compelling tale began to take shape, beginning when Rick was fifteen, in Williams Lake, British Columbia.
This play traces a fishing trip Rick and Don took together. Hitchhiking home, they took a lift on the back of a pickup truck. Don was uncomfortable and asked to switch places so he could sleep. Rick gladly traded. But a little while later, the truck crashed—Rick’s back was broken—and Don came out without a scratch. Rick, who’d been a star athlete, has to deal with losing the use of his legs. Don has to deal with the guilt. This is the story of how Rick pulls them both up.
Photos and lighting by Etai Erdal
Contact Michael Petrasek at Kensington Literary Representation for performance rights information.