Toronto (May 18, 2006) - Erika Schmutz, former patient of Toronto Rehab's Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program, member of Canada's national wheelchair rugby team and the first woman named to the team, joined patients and staff of Toronto Rehab's Lyndhurst Centre in a pep rally to kick-off the 4th annual Rick Hansen Wheels In Motion fundraising event.

"We are very excited to work in partnership with the Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation to raise public awareness of spinal cord injury and to raise funds in support of community-based projects that enhance the lives of our patients and their families," says Chantal Graveline, Toronto Rehab's Executive Director of Patient Care, Cardiac and Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Programs.

Rick Hansen Wheels In Motion is an annual event that raises awareness and funds to help make a difference in the lives of Canadians living with spinal cord injury. The first event was launched in 2003 and the 4th annual Rick Hansen Wheels In Motion is set to roll in communities across Canada on Sunday, June 11th. Toronto Rehab's team will be a mix of current and former patients of the spinal cord program, friends, family and staff.

A percentage of the money raised through the Wheels In Motion event is directed back to the community; the balance supports research. The funds raised through pledges will be designated to Toronto Rehab's Lyndhurst Centre, home of the hospital's spinal cord rehab program, for upgrades to the centre's existing fitness centre.

Last year the Wheels In Motion event raised $1.8 million across Canada and $50,000 was donated to Toronto Rehab to build a wheelchair-accessible Therapeutic Recreation Horticultural Garden for spinal cord patients, slated to be completed within a couple of months. The garden, which will be maintained by patients and their clinical team members, will be fully accessible and include elevated garden boxes and a seating area to assist patients with their gardening.

Both projects will enhance patient care by supporting activities that improve wellness and increase patients' physical and emotional health. The therapeutic gardens and the improved fitness centre will complement Toronto Rehab's holistic and comprehensive Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program.

Last year, more than 100 Toronto Rehab participants on 10 teams wheeled, walked or ran a three-, five-, or 10-kilometre course raising more than $16,000 for the Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation.

The top Toronto fundraiser was former Toronto Rehab patient, Cameron Clifford, who raised more than $10,000.

The Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation's mission is to accelerate improvements to the quality of life of people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Since Rick Hansen's epic Man In Motion World Tour (1985-87), the Foundation has made an impact of over $158 million in support of people with SCI. It has also created an International SCI research centre, developed Canada's first national SCI network, established an innovative youth program and launched Wheels In Motion.

About Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) is at the forefront of one of the most important and emerging frontiers in health care today - rehabilitation science. As a fully affiliated teaching and research hospital of the University of Toronto, Toronto Rehab is Canada's largest provider of adult rehabilitation services, complex continuing care, and long-term care. Toronto Rehab is advancing rehabilitation knowledge and practice through research, education and patient care. More information is available at: www.torontorehab.com.

Media Contact

Phone: 416 340 4636
Email: UHN.News@uhn.ca

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