Wings for Life: personal tragedy drives duo to find cure for SCI

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The story involving the beginning of the Wings for Life Foundation has a familiar ring to many. Someone sustains a spinal cord injury, their family decides they’re going to do something about coming up with a cure, start a non-profit foundation and off they go. That’s pretty much the story behind Wings for Life except for one major difference. The driving forces behind Wings for Life are the two-time motocross world champion Heinz Kinigadner and the founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz. It helps to have fame, recognition and lots of money.

In 2003, Kinigadner's son Hannes had a tragic accident which left him tetraplegic. Moved by the dreadful injury, Heinz and Dietrich invited leading scientists from across the world to come to Salzburg, Austria. It soon became clear that, contrary to common opinion, there is legitimate reason to hope that traumatic spinal cord injury can be cured. Heinz and Dietrich soon realized that research into spinal cord injury was underfunded. Paralysis is not considered a widespread condition and, therefore, investing millions in research to help a relatively small number of people was generally considered an unprofitable endeavor.

This realization prompted Heinz and Dietrich to set up the Wings for Life research foundation – with the goal of finding ways to cure all people affected. And so, for over 15 years, they have worked tirelessly to raise critical funding to support research in this area. More recently, they unveiled their latest series of projects they have funded which you can read about HERE.

We also wanted to share a nifty web site they’ve created that lists all the clinical trials taking place worldwide involving only spinal cord injury. We liked the clean and easy to navigate features of this site and you can access it HERE.