Wings for Life is an international not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation. Their mission is to find a cure for spinal cord injury. They fund world-class scientific research and clinical trials around the globe aimed at healing the injured spinal cord. The driving forces behind Wings for Life are the two-time motocross world champion Heinz Kinigadner and the founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz. In 2003, Kinigadner's son Hannes had a tragic accident which left him tetraplegic. The Wings for Life World Run is the centrepiece of its fundraising efforts, and 100% of the entry fee (now $71.50) goes to life-changing research projects aimed at healing the injured spinal cord. All administrative costs of the event and foundation are kindly covered by the Red Bull company.
The Wings for Life World Run is a global race with a difference. Instead of a finish line, runners and wheelchair competitors – from beginners to elite athletes – race side by side to keep ahead of the Catcher Car. On May 7, 2017, over 100,000 participants in 25 locations worldwide will start the Wings for Life World Run at precisely the same time - whether that’s dawn in North America, the middle of the day in Europe, or at night here in Australia. The Melbourne start time is 21:00 making for an exciting night running experience! The Catcher Cars take off 30 minutes after the start at 15km/h and steadily increase their speed, precisely synced across the globe, until the last participants have been caught.
As someone who sustained a spinal cord injury in 2008 when a car hit me while I was working in Fiji, Wings for Life greatly inspires me. It is an organisation with no other agenda; the ultimate aim is to find a genuine cure for spinal cord injury and Wings for Life through the World Run have tapped into the amazing power of social engagement, in order to make this discovery possible. To see thousands of strangers across the globe compete in a race that is some-what symbolic of the sort of journey ones goes on with spinal cord injury, is amazingly inspiring and heart-warming. It obviously gives me renewed hope of a genuine cure being discovered, but it also re-energises my own efforts in pushing myself beyond "boundaries". I can't wait to take part!