When Rick Hansen was just beginning his Man in Motion world tour, Marnie Essery joined the Intermunicipal Advisory Committee on Disability Issues.
Twenty-five years later, Essery is now the chair of the committee. The Highlands resident has dedicated her life to helping remove barriers for people with disabilities and has been a key member of more than 20 different non-profit groups as an advocate for people with disabilities.
Hansen inspired Essery when he began the Man in Motion tour.
“I thought, I have barriers in my own community. How is he going to go around the world and achieve his goals?”
When it comes to barriers, Essery knows them well. She’s spent most of her life in a wheelchair living with the repercussions of rheumatoid arthritis.
For her years of service to the community, Essery was acknowledged as a “difference maker” and a medal-bearer in the Rick Hansen 25th anniversary relay, which wrapped up May 22 in Vancouver. The relay began in Newfoundland in August and concluded on the West Coast.
Essery wheeled along the streets of Vancouver alongside Hansen for her portion of the relay, carrying a medal that has travelled across the country.
“It was really special,” she said. “He said he appreciated all the work I do and (told) me to keep doing it.”
Essery was also honoured with a medal of her own for being recognized as a difference maker.
Essery was selected to be a part of the event after she submitted a written entry of all the work she has done in the community over they years.