Wings for Life: Run for those who can't
Wings for Life is an international not-for-profit research foundation that aims to find a cure for spinal cord injury. The charity funds world-class scientific research across the world in addition to financing global clinical trials in order to find ways to rehabilitate and cure injuries to the spinal cord, which are often debilitating and have life-long effects for sufferers.
The Spinal Cord is so incredibly nerve rich that it is responsible for the coordination of most motor and cognitive function in the human body; in fact, the brain and spinal cord together form the CNS or Central Nervous System. Those who suffer spinal cord injury lose significant motor function, often rendered paraplegic for life. Some also lose cognitive functioning, although most end up confined to a wheelchair for most of their lives.
Arguably the most iconic person to ever suffer a spinal injury was actor Christopher Reeve, best known for playing the world’s most well-known comic superhero, Superman. Reeve, a trained equestrian, was thrown from his horse while eventing, suffering damage to his vertebrae and suffering cervicospinal injuries that paralysed from the neck down.
Reeve remained unable to use his limbs and in a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. Due to the fact that research into spinal injury was not as in-depth then as it is now, Reeve had several reactions to experimental and non-experimental drugs that were administered to treat spinal cord injury at the time. He died in 2004.
Many athletes have suffered spinal injury and a fair number have returned to the sport, although their abilities have been severely limited. Injuries can be from external trauma, or can be sudden and from no apparent cause.
Wings for Life aims to fund research into the after-effects of spinal injury and the rehabilitation of patients, research focussed on improving their quality of life and giving them hope for recovery. The foundation is based on public donations and private initiatives.
As spinal injury is not considered a widespread condition, government funding is limited. The Wings for Life World Run aims to increase the awareness of spinal injury as well as help assist funding to it, in order to provide a better life for those suffering from it all over the world.