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Stephen Harper and Canadian paraplegic athlete Rick Hansen attend 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympic Games.

Kevin C. Cox/Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell on Sunday pledged a total $38.5-million boost to Rick Hansen's bid to raise $200-million for research into curing spinal-cord injuries.

On the 25th anniversary of the launch of Mr. Hansen's Man-in-Motion wheelchair tour of the world, Mr. Harper announced $13.5-million in federal funding from the stimulus program for Mr. Hansen's efforts and Mr. Campbell promised $25-million in B.C. funding at a news conference.

"We are proud to support the work of someone like Rick, who has devoted his life to challenging preconceptions about what those with spinal-cord injuries can achieve," Mr. Harper said.

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Mr. Hansen's 1985 tour lasted 26 months, plus subsequent efforts that ultimately helped generate $200-million for spinal-injury research.

Now Mr. Hansen is expanding on his Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Institute - an independent charitable organization - as part of a bid to raise a further $200-million and formalize research by 2012.

"This will be so inspirational to us," Mr. Hansen said of the donations. "We'll be asking others to support and step up - the private sector, the public, major foundations and agencies and other nations."

The Premier said Mr. Hansen has been an inspiration throughout his 25 years in public life. "He reminds people that whatever we decide we want to do and we dream we can do, we should pursue that dream regardless of the obstacles, keep at it."

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