One day, Christopher Reeve was Superman. And the next he was in a wheelchair having suffered a serious spinal cord injury while horse riding. He went on to dedicate the rest of his life to funding research into the curing of spinal cord injuries as well as helping those living with paralysis through the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
Wings for Life is a non-profit foundation, founded by former motocross world champion Heinz Kinigadner and Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, that is also dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injury and does so by funding research projects and clinical trials. One such area is epidural stimilation which, as explained in a press release, “is the application of continuous electrical current – at varying frequencies and intensities – to specific locations on the lower part of the spinal cord. It involves an implanted device over the dura of the lumbar cord (the protective coating of the lower section of the spinal cord) where the central pattern generator (CPG) exists. The CPG is like a mini-brain within the spinal cord that is able to interpret sensory information. Epidural stimulation is used to activate the nerve circuits in the spinal cord to provide signals that would normally come from the brain.”
Wings for Life has partnered with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to give further impetus to the research being done by Dr. Susan Harkema in epidural stimulation through The Big Idea.
One of the ways that Wings For Life raises funds for research is through the Wings for Life World Run, which takes places simultaneously in cities around the world. 100% of the registration fees (and any additional donations) go towards funding spinal cord research.
This year, it is happening on May 3rd and races start at 11am UTC in over 30 locations, including: Denmark, Turkey, Brazil, Slovakia, Romania, India, Germany, Dubai, Peru, Australia, Taiwan and Japan. The South African leg (the only one in Africa) starts at the Boschendal Wine Estate at 1pm. Last year, over 30,000 runners participated.
The basic format is that 30 minutes after the start of the race, a Catcher Car takes off, driving at 15 km/h. When the car passes you, you are done. The last man and woman on the road will be the Global Champions. There are chips embedded in the race bib (number) and the Catcher Car has a scanner, which is how they will determine who the Global Champions are.
Local personalities who will be participating in the Wings for Life World Run include C6 quadriplegic athlete Pieter du Preez, rally driver Gugu Zulu, actress Hlubi Mboya, rugby player James Dalton and actress Vanessa.
Entries for this year’s close in a couple of days but there may be the possibility of registering on the day. Check the site for more information on the run. Also, for more information on The Big Idea as well as information on epidural stimulation, check HERE and HERE.