It happens every 41 minutes: somebody in the U.S. sustains a spinal cord injury. This epidemic, which affects more than 2.5 million people worldwide, including 300,000 Americans, has yet to become a focus of major medical study — until now. Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation is a global charity dedicated to making spinal injury curable, and its U.S. debut is poised to make a major impact in the athletic community and beyond.
The foundation’s goals are four-fold: (1) funding cutting edge scientific research aiming to heal spinal cord injury; (2) improving scientific communication in this specific field of research; (3) developing concrete, clinical intervention strategies and their potential applications; and (4) preventing spinal cord injuries.
While Wings for Life began as a collaborative effort between Austrian motocross rider Heinz Kinigadner and Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz in 2004, its aim has never been solely to aid extreme sports athletes. Since more than 90-percent of all spinal cord injuries occur while people are doing everyday tasks such as riding in a car, hiking or working on a roof, it’s clear that no one is immune to the grief and pain that living life in a wheelchair brings.
Kinigadner understands this better than anyone — he started the foundation for very personal reasons — his 23-year-old son, Hannes, became a Paraplegic after suffering a severe injury in 2003, and his brother Hans, also a motocross athlete, has been bound to a wheelchair since 1984. Despite these personal tragedies, Kinigadner remains optimistic, telling his son: “There is no greater commitment than a promise. And there is no excuse for disappointing legitimate hopes.”
FLYING INTO THE FUTURE
Wings for Life recognizes that the only way to turn these hopes into reality is through research. The foundation has established an Environment which guarantees that 100 percent of all donations received are used exclusively for promising research initiatives. In order to select the best projects seeking financial support from the foundation, Wings for Life consults a panel of experts and an advisory board which is composed of leading international neuroscientists — including professors from Harvard
Medical School, McGill and Yale University. Wings for Life is also the only foundation which conducts research aimed at prevention of spinal cord injuries.
While scientific breakthroughs are possible, the studies to reach them are costly. It is only through the generous support of everyday Americans that Wings for Life can truly take flight in the U.S. Please log on to www.wingsforlife.com to get more information and to make a tax-deductible donation. With your help, Wings for Life can take a stand for those who can’t.
From a press release issued by Red Bull