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Quadriplegic police officer to be a Rick Hansen medal bearer


On Monday, March 12, 2012, Canada’s only quadriplegic police officer, EPS acting Detective Bryce Clarke, will proudly role into the gymnasium at the University of Alberta Van Vliet Centre, alongside Canada’s Man in Motion, Rick Hansen.

“I will have the privilege of carrying the sterling silver Rick Hansen Relay Medal for one leg of its cross-country journey,” notes Clarke.

The medal is a key component in the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Cross-Country Relay. Funds raised through the relay, which spans the country, will support the Rick Hansen Institute. The Institute supports research and development into spinal cord injuries, in addition to working to improve the quality of life for those living with such injuries.

“Over the course of the relay, 7,000 people will have carried the medal,” says Clarke.


End of Day Ceremony

The ceremony, starting at 3:30 p.m. in the main gymnasium of the Van Vliet Centre is known as, ‘The End of Day Ceremony,’ because this is the last official relay function of the day. Clarke, a member of the local organizing committee, will carry the medal from around 86 Avenue and 112 Street to just north of 87 Avenue.

A third-last medal bearer, after handing off the medal to the second-last medal bearer, Clarke will join Hansen and the medal entourage for the final leg of the journey, as the medal rolls into the gymnasium The final medal bearer is U of A Professor Emeritus Dr. Bob Steadward, Q.C., LLD (Hon), Honourary President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Steadward is the Founder and Honourary President of the Steadward Centre, a multi-disability fitness, research and lifestyle facility for people with disabilities.

View a re-cap of Clarke's experience below:

Acting Detective Clarke’s story

Clarke started recruit training on February 23, 1998. Upon graduating, he worked in south side patrol, followed by the south side Break and Enter Team. On July 1, 2001, the Canada Riot broke out, and the entire Break and Enter Team was seconded to Whyte Avenue Beats.

“That was a hectic summer,” he recalls. “All summer, every time a fight broke out, we worried that another riot would spontaneously occur.”

As summer 2001 drew to a close, Clarke invited his Whyte Avenue colleagues out to his acreage for an end-of-summer party. “I have a pool on my acreage, and, as I had done so many times before, I climbed up on the deck railing and dove in.

I remember hearing a loud crack, and then I couldn’t move. I heard the guys on the deck, and they thought I was joking. Eventually, I lost consciousness, and after a few minutes someone jumped in and grabbed me.

I wasn’t breathing, and had no pulse. They resuscitated me and called for help. STARS took me to the University of Alberta Hospital, where I stayed ‘til nearly the end of October 2001.

After that, I was transferred to the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, and I was released in February 2002. I started going back to work in 2004, and returned full-time in 2009.

Today, I’m the only quadriplegic police officer in the country,” says Clarke.

“Life is good, I still live on my acreage with my wife and her two kids. And, thanks to the work being done by organizations like the Rick Hansen Institute, I do believe that, one day, I will walk again,” he concluded.