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Search is on for final Rick Hansen medal bearer

The town is launching a local contest to choose the final medal bearer for the Innisfail leg of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay.

The town is launching a local contest to choose the final medal bearer for the Innisfail leg of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay.

This initiative is an added bonus to the local celebrations, which will be held in Innisfail - an “End of the Day Community” on the national relay - on March 1 and 2, 2012. The national organizing committee is already holding an online contest to participate in the relay.

“The committee can choose a final local medal bearer on the first day of the Innisfail stop,” said Heather Fletcher, a community facilitator for the town. “We have a nomination contest we will be launching for the final medal bearer.”

The relay, 25 years after Hansen’s Man in Motion World Tour, begins on Aug. 24 in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador. It concludes on May 22, 2012. The relay will travel through more than 600 communities as it makes its nine-month, 12,000-kilometre journey across Canada.

The relay is retracing the Canadian segment of the original tour. However, on this tour the original Man in Motion will be represented and celebrated by 7,000 participants from across Canada. The relay will feature medal bearers who will run, walk, wheel or cycle. In every province, relay medal bearers will pass along the singular Rick Hansen Medal - produced by the Royal Canadian Mint - as it makes its way across the country.

Fletcher said nomination forms for the local contest can be found on the town’s web site at www.townofinnisfail.com, or citizens can go pick up the forms at the town office.

The Rick Hansen Foundation unveiled its national online public contest at www.RickHansenRelay.com on April 5. Canadians from coast to coast can enter to win a spot for themselves or nominate a worthy individual to participate in the relay as a medal bearer.

“We are very excited to have a the 25th Anniversary Man in Motion tour stopping in Innisfail. We have a group of residents that are already planning the event, many of whom were present when Rick rolled through town 25 years ago,” said Shelley Gagnon, the town’s community services director.

Fletcher said there are 10 members on the committee who are busy making preparations for the Innisfail stop. She said the committee is willing to take on more members.

The committee at this time is still working out the route medal bearers will take into town on March 1, as well as the one when they leave the following day, said Fletcher. However, the committee has determined that the relay will take the medal bearers to the new Innisfail Library where a big celebration will be held. The time has not yet been announced.

After staying in town for one night the medal bearers will leave in the morning from the Innisfail schools, and follow a planned route out of Innisfail with additional relay participants.

Fletcher said the committee is meeting again in September to discuss further event preparations and what type of local budget should be set.

“They will decide what they want to do, what type of celebrations they want. They will then draw up a budget,” said Fletcher.