Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Ten years ago, Richard Perrin, an Ottawa software engineer and father of two, discovered a new passion in his life: motorcycling. He signed up for an introductory motorcycle course at the Ottawa Safety Council, went on to take part in bike tours in New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Maine, Newfoundland and England and began rebuilding old bikes in his garage.
In August 2009 Richard's passion took a turn for the worst and he was thrown 140 metres off his motorcycle at a speed of 160 kilometres an hour into a concrete wall on the backstretch of a vintage motorcycle race. The accident left him with an incomplete T5 spinal cord injury and unable to move or feel his legs.
Richard began rehabilitation treatment in September 2009 at the Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre with strengthening and physiotherapy sessions to adapt to his new way of life in a wheelchair. After four months of learning the essential skills to live the rest of his life as a paraplegic, doctors discovered subtle muscle movement in his big toe showing that his body had regained some leg function.
While rehab continued, Richard discovered new ways of living a healthy active lifestyle through recreational wheelchair basketball, hand-cycling, and training towards competing in triathlons. He also began to strengthen his core muscles and learned to use a walker. His determination paid off when the movement in his leg began to become controlled.
On October 28 2011, day 66 of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay, Richard began his 250 metre segment of the Relay in Nepean, Ontario. With the support of his two daughters and wife Maureen and months of work towards this day, Richard left behind his wheelchair and walked the final 100 metres with the Rick Hansen Medal with only two canes and an ankle brace.
Richard's story is one of many remarkable stories that make of the 7,000 difference makers who are making their way across the country as part of the nine month Rick Hansen Relay.
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