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A spinal-cord injury can happen to anyone, at any age, in any country. It happens in an instant, and when that instant is over, everything is different. For some survivors, muscle control, mobility, feeling in one’s limbs and the ability to regulate bodily functions are all part of a lost world.
It’s a world former motocross champion Heinz Kinigadner longs to return to his son Hannes. After an accident in 2003, 19-year-old Hannes was left a quadriplegic. A year later, with fellow Austrian and Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, Kinigadner launched The Wings for Life Foundation. Since then, the foundation has funded more than 80 spinal-cord-injury research projects at universities and institutes all over the world. Their search for a cure is fuelled by hope, determination and love.
But research is costly, and since spinal-cord injury is a challenge faced by people all over the planet, Wings for Life has devised the perfect fundraiser. On May 4, on the stroke of 10 a.m., Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a global community of runners will set out in 35 locations, in 33 countries, on six continents. In India, runners will fight through the hottest part of the afternoon; Australians on the southwest coast will look up and catch the sunset; Californians will get set and go at 3 a.m., the sunrise eventually greeting them three hours later.
There’s another difference to this worldwide run. There is no fixed distance, and runners are truly racing against themselves—and a hardy competitor with an edge nobody can beat. It’s called the Catcher Car, and this little internal combustion engine tries to be fair. At least at first. Every competitor gets a head start, but 30 minutes after a runner passes the car and activates the chip in his or her race number, the Catcher Car begins to pursue the runner at speeds that increase every hour on the hour. And once the Catcher Car catches up, the runner’s race is over. Then it’s a ride back to the starting area on the shuttle bus for a celebration with other participants.
Like life, the Wings for Life World Run is a race against time. The Foundation’s researchers are betting they can beat the clock on spinal cord injuries. We all hope that too.
For more information, please visit www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com
All photos courtesy: Wings for Life Foundation.
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