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Man In Motion inspires #1 Hit


On this date, March 21st 1985:

photo: Rick Hansen Foundation

In Vancouver, the Canadian wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen begins his “Man In Motion” tour to raise money for spinal cord research. Inspired by his quest, fellow Canadian David Foster works with John Parr to write a tribute song to Hansen for the film St. Elmo’s Fire.

Foster and Parr tell the film company that the lyrics are inspired by events in the movie, but the title – “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)” – makes it clear that the song is about Hansen, and indeed, Parr didn’t watch the film before recording it, as Hansen gave him all the inspiration he needed. “I was him as I sang it,” Parr tells Songfacts. “Wheeling up the mountainside towards St. Elmo’s Fire burning in the sky.”

The first few months of Hansen’s tour take him through California and across to Florida. It’s rough going, covering about 50 miles a day while his team tries to drum up media support and donations. The tour heads to Europe in the summer, and over the next few months, the song climbs the charts and becomes Hansen’s anthem, drawing more media attention to his journey.

The “Man In Motion” tour takes Hansen through Australia, China, and the Middle East. By the time it finishes in Vancouver on May 22, 1987, Hansen and his team have been through 34 countries and raised over $26 million, and he is a national hero in his home country. His foundation continues to support people with disabilities as it attempts to eliminate barriers – physical and perceptual – that may be holding them back.



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