Hope and Possibility Make All the Difference
As the 25th Anniversary Relay commemorating Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour moves across the country, Rick and the Relay team have had the privilege of meeting some amazing difference makers. Tracy Dort-Kyne is one of these people. She is an example of someone who has chosen a future of hope and possibility.
On Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011, while training for a bike race in Collingwood, Ont., Tracy had an accident that forever changed her life. After losing control of her bike and flipping over the handlebars, she woke up as a quadriplegic. Tracy was 41, between jobs in the finance industry and a single mom with three young boys. An avid athlete, she dreamt of participating in an Ironman Triathlon one day; but now finds herself adjusting to a new life in a wheelchair.
On Friday, Nov. 4, 2011, Rick was in Ontario with the 25th Anniversary Relay. While there, he visited Tracy at Lyndhurst hospital, where the two shared some very special one-on-one time. They talked at length about Tracy’s current situation—and her future. Rick was captivated by her passion and conviction for a future where she will continue to be a participating and contributing member of society.
“Tracy is a true testament to what can be achieved when a person chooses to lead their life with courage and determination,” says Rick. “Her story touched us all, and has proven to be one of the highlights of our 25th Anniversary journey. As I look to the future, I see a world where those newly injured from spinal cord injury (SCI ) walk away and the one billion people around the world living with various types of disabilities have equal opportunity to participate in, and contribute to, all aspects of their community.”
Faced with her new reality, Tracy had a very important choice to make—she could choose to give up and be a victim of her injury, or choose to persevere.
“After a couple of weeks of being in the hospital, I knew I was at a crossroads; I could either embrace my new life with grace and dignity, or simply give up,” says Tracy. “For me there was no option. I was grateful to be alive and made the choice to be happy and positive. Having an incredibly supportive family made my choice that much easier.”
Rick and his team were so moved by Tracy’s story and determination that they invited her to be a Medal-Bearer for the Toronto section of the Relay.
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, was one of many firsts for Tracy. It was the first time that she’d left the hospital since her accident, and the first time that she rode in a wheelchair taxi. It was also the day that she became part of the 25th Anniversary Relay, giving her the chance to share her story for the first time. With the Rick Hansen Difference Maker medal around her neck, and surrounded by family and friends, Tracy wheeled side by side with Rick, demonstrating the power of hope and possibility.
“Participating in the Relay was one of the best days of my life, and definitely my most cherished moment post-injury,” says Tracy. “I was so touched that Rick wheeled with me, holding my hand the entire way, and sharing in such a special moment with all of my family and friends. For the first time since sustaining my injury, I felt free.”
Tracy credits her family for giving her the strength to embrace her new life. Her sister Lesley handles all inquiries and manages the trust that has been set up to help fund Tracy’s hefty medical expenses; her brother-in-law, Robert, created tracydortkyne.com to share her story; and her other sister, Lynn, has given her time to help raise Tracy’s sons.
Since her participation in the Relay, Tracy is refocusing her goals to participate in adaptive sports; and has become an Ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation. She is committed to motivating and supporting others with her story of courage and optimism. Rick Hansen Foundation Ambassadors are people with SCI who volunteer in communities across Canada, sharing their stories of inspiration and hope. Each one of these remarkable individuals illustrates that it is possible to overcome major life challenges through hard work and passionate determination.
From left: Rick Hansen, Tracy Dort-Kyne and her mom, Joan.