A Surrey SFU student blind since birth participated in the 25th anniversary Rick Hansen "Many in Motion" World Tour relay Friday (May 18), along with her guide dog, Kobe.
Angell Lu-Lebel is in her third year of kinesiology at the university.
"It was really good," Lu-Lebel said shortly after her part in the relay. "There were people all around, cheering, and everyone was very excited."
She said it was a special moment to be able to wear the Rick Hansen Medal, which was created by the Royal Canadian Mint.
"It was pretty heavy actually," she said.
And her furry friend Kobe enjoyed himself too, she added.
Lu-Lebel, 21, said she wanted to take part to advocate for those with disabilities.
"I have a disability. Raising awareness helps people understand better," she said.
"Misunderstandings can cause awkward situations."
Lu-Lebel said it's important to for people to be aware of disabilities and what they truly are.
"To me, it's not about overcoming my disability, because I haven't known any other way. It's more about helping people around to understand it. When obstacles come up, other people don't know what I'm able to do. Sometimes they decide what I can and can't do."
In her experience, people often think she isn't able to do something that she is.
Lu-Lebel ran a 300-metre portion of the relay Friday afternoon. She ran the route atop Burnaby Mountain, starting at the main entrance of the SFU Burnaby campus on Gaglardi Way.
Rick Hansen's relay was scheduled to make stops in Surrey and White Rock on Saturday, May 19, including an event at Surrey Sport & Leisure Centre in the afternoon and an evening gathering at White Rock Community Centre.
Rick Hansen was set to appear at the White Rock event, and a photo op at the Peace Arch that afternoon.
And the relay was scheduled to travel through South Delta on May 20.
This year marks the 25th anniversary since Rick Hansen, at the age of 15, set off from Vancouver to wheel 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries to prove the potential of people with disabilities.
After the tour, he established the Rick Hansen Foundation to find a cure for spinal cord injuries and create more accessible communities.
The 25th anniversary relay began on Aug. 24, 2011 in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador, and is set to conclude in Vancouver on May 22. Along the 12,000-kilometre relay route, approximately 7,000 participants will have passed along the Rick Hansen Medal.
In Vancouver on May 22, tickets are $25 for the "Celebration 25" relay-ending event at Pacific Coliseum, with performances by Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, David Foster, Marianas Trench, Johnny Reid, The Canadian Tenors and others (info at www.rickhansen.com).
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