Sign Joan Currie up as a volunteer for Salmon Arm’s celebration of the Man In Motion 25th Anniversary Relay.
The 81-year-old Pioneer Lodge resident was ecstatic when she learned the city will be taking part in relay festivities with other communities across the country that were stops on Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion tour. Currie hopes she’ll be able to help out in any way she can with the event.
“I’m not sure what I can do at this point, I’m in a rest home now but I still have a little bit of energy left in me,” says Currie, who is a longtime fan and supporter of Hansen and his mission to find a cure for spinal cord injuries.
Currie could be called one of the silent heroes of the original Man in Motion tour. Her involvement began with a phone call. She was asked to help a Penticton man who was compiling a book of poems and stories, later titled Pens In Motion, to raise funds for Hansen.
“He had 15 per cent hearing in one ear and was legally blind… Mike, the young handicapped fellow, he had a dream of raising $10,000,” said Currie. The fundraising had been a success, up to a point.
With Hansen days away, the group Currie was working with still needed about $500. She made a dash to a book store in Osoyoos that was selling the book and secured the funds in advance so that Mike was able to deliver by hand a cheque for 10 grand.
This experience led to Currie being asked to co-ordinate a fundraiser in Kelowna, and getting involved with similar efforts throughout the province. And while she wasn’t always the one who handed over the final cheque, Currie did get to meet Hansen.
“I got to shake hands with Rick and that was really nice,” says Currie.
Currie’s passion for the cause has never wavered, though she did have to put fundraising aside to care for her son.
“He was of very ill health and I just gave all my time to him and I let all that go then,” said Currie. “In the beginning he was a lot better when I first got started and he encouraged me greatly and he talked to people about the book too, so I sort of fell by the wayside.”
Currie’s enthusiasm for what Rick Hansen and the foundation are trying to accomplish is owed in part to the advancements she’s seen in her lifetime.
“Sometimes I think in days gone by when there was something wrong with a child they’d put them in an institution,” says Currie. “These days they do everything they can, and they get people on their feet again. It’s marvelous. It should be like that.”
The anniversary relay will begin in Newfoundland on Aug. 24, and is expected to reach Salmon Arm on April 4, 2012.