Fundraiser nets $220K for spinal cord injury research 

Rick Hansen event raises more June 13

John and Penny Ryan with Rick Hansen last month. Photo submitted
  • John and Penny Ryan with Rick Hansen last month. Photo submitted

A trip to Los Angeles that included tickets and backstage passes to Victoria’s Secret live fashion show was just one of the items auctioned at Whistler residents’ John and Penny Ryan’s third fundraising dinner in support of spinal cord injury research. The dinner attracted 150 guests.

The $250/plate dinner and auction raised $220,000, the proceeds of which were the final installment in the Ryans’ pledge for a $6 million endowment to fund a spinal cord injury research chair.

Dr. John Steeves, the first recipient, is leading the development of the new Vancouver-based international spinal injury research centre. The International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD) centre is scheduled to open in two years and will be co-funded by the Rick Hansen Man in Motion Foundation and the provincial government’s Leading Edge endowment fund.

"Penny and I are both thrilled to have achieved our $6 million goal in support of John Steeves and ICORD," John Ryan said in a prepared statement.

Seven years ago John hand-pedaled a three-wheel biked across Canada to raise money for spinal cord research in Canada. Since then he and wife Penny made a commitment to raise $1.5 million over five years toward the international research centre.

"This success is the positive outcome of people coming together in support of a common goal," Rick Hansen said. "Everyone who helped make this possible has contributed to fostering excellence in research and improved outcomes for people with spinal cord injury."

This Sunday, June 11, the Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion Vancouver event will raise more funds toward spinal cord injury research with a 2-5 kilometer walk, run or wheel event.

To take part in the Whistler event, you can register at the Meadow Park baseball field starting at 9 a.m. The event gets underway at 10 a.m. with a round trip to Rainbow Park. There will be food, live entertainment, and displays.

If you wish to volunteer, or can’t take part but would like to make a donation, contact organizer Tony Jovanovic at

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