Column: Heroism resonates with Hansen

We refer to athletes who score a winning goal as heroes but to make such a claim is nonsense.

hero – 1. a person distinguished by courage, noble deeds, outstanding accomplishments, etc. (i.e. Terry Fox became a national hero)

– source, Canadian Oxford dictionary

 

The term hero is often thrown around loosely.

We refer to athletes who score a winning goal or otherwise lead their team to a championship as heroes, even though in the grander sense of the word, to make such a claim is nonsense.

Wayne Gretzky, who many Canadians believe is the best hockey player ever to lace up a pair of skates, is iconic in this country – he was an obvious choice to light the Olympic torch to open the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver – but is he heroic?

One could argue that since his accomplishments, unparalleled in his sport, prompted fans and non-hockey watchers alike to shower him with kudos and respect, that yes, he qualifies as a hero. But if one were to compare his actions to, say, those of a longtime dedicated humanitarian, or a soldier who saved the lives of many trenchmates in wartime and helped lead his side to victory, it might be a different story.

Truth is, we have many types of hero in our society, and they serve a valuable purpose, each for different reasons. The dictionary definition allows for a fairly broad interpretation.

It seems for most people, the question of respect is a key determining factor when considering a person’s hero status, whether that occurs long after their deeds are done or while they are still actively involved in their chosen field.

Former wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion world fundraising tour for spinal cord research in the mid-1980s captured the attention of the world, especially here in his home country.

Hansen, like the aforementioned Terry Fox, was initially christened an international hero for his Herculean efforts wheeling himself around the globe in a wheelchair. Never mind the fact that he won three gold medals, two silver and a bronze between two Paralympic Games before tackling the fundraising mission for spinal cord research.

He remains a national hero in many people’s eyes – he received a huge ovation in B.C. Place as one of the final carriers of the Olympic Torch – because he continues to put others before himself, by spearheading further fundraising efforts and channelling people’s energy for the greater good, much like he did during the original Man in Motion world tour.

Hansen was in Greater Victoria this week, as part of his Rick Hansen Relay cross-Canada tour. While some of the folks who received his special Difference Maker awards in Victoria, Esquimalt and Oak Bay weren’t born at the time of the original Man in Motion, all were no doubt thrilled to be recognized by someone whose light shines in the same way Terry Fox’s did three decades ago.

Hansen, never known to turn down an interview or an opportunity to give an autograph to someone who he thinks it might make a difference for, is the ultimate diplomat for what it means to be Canadian, and what it means to overcome a potentially devastating disability.

He understands, at 54, that his role has changed from those days when his ripped upper body pounded through kilometre after kilometre.

As a man who exudes grace and class as he extends his hands to help, he is definitely a good example of a true Canadian hero.

Don Descoteau is the editor of the Victoria News.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Ancient microbes discovered off the Juan de Fuca Ridge potentially offers glimpse into alien life

The marine bacteria is dependent on hydrogen, a compound present almost everywhere

Saanich rental project wins silver by going ‘green’

The Verve rental housing project stands at the corner of Boleskine Road and Whittier Avenue

Volunteers needed for annual Mother’s Day walk

Breast Cancer Society of Canada hosts annual Mother’s Day event

Sidney Lions dish $4,000 to help build on growing trishaw bike charity

Cycling Without Age Society draws attention as far off as Washington

420 celebrations turn over new leaf at B.C. legislature

Cannabis is legal for the first time in the 21-year existence of the 420 event in Victoria

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

Most Read