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Spinal Cord Injury Community

The World Runs for Spinal Cord Injury

Aaron Baker
Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
06/04/19  8:15 AM PST
Wings for Life World Run May 2019 Aaron Baker

Katie and Aaron Baker celebrate their participation in the 2019 Wings For Life World Run in Vienna, Austria.

100,000+ Run to Fund Spinal Cord Injury Research

In addition to the Wings For Life Scientific Meeting, I was lucky enough to participate in the Wings For Life World Run in the SOLD OUT flagship event in Vienna, Austria.

The run simultaneously starts all around the world at 11:00 am UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). In Vienna, our start time was 1:00 pm, which was a MUCH better start time than my previous years starting at 4 am in California. This year, more than 120,000 registered runners and App runners – including wheelchair participants – covered 1,103,276 km (685,543 mi) in 323 locations across 72 countries. Runners stretched from Australia to Colombia, and South Africa to Kazakhstan.

The coolest part of the entire event is that 100% of all entry fees and donations raised by the run go to the research projects supported by Wings for Life, which funds promising spinal cord injury research to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

Thanks to a research project funded by Wings For Life, David Mzee of Switzerland, who has been living with a spinal cord injury for years, walked across the start line in Zug at this year’s race. “It’s exciting to see that people are touched and inspired by my story, and especially in the beginning with all the people passing by and clapping, that was breathtaking,” said Mzee.

My wife, Katelyn, and I were decked out in layers of clothing as it was pouring rain all day. We gathered with 12,000+ registered runners and waited at the start line waiting for our count down. To keep warm and amplify the crowd’s excitement, we all danced in place and chanted  (in German) hoo-rah songs. As the start-gun went off, my adrenaline surged and I zoomed off with the mass of runners. Katie and our friend Wags (CEO of WFL USA) were running behind me trying to not be swallowed by the enthusiastic crowd. As we kept a steady pace and inched our way to the left side of the road to get out of everyone’s way, an excited runner in hot pink came from behind and began pushing my wheelchair way to fast. Katie started screaming “NO! NO! NO!” as she feared my front wheels might clip a cobblestone and send me flying. She sprinted up to us and took over just in time to avoid the train rails in the road.

Thirty minutes after we left the start line, the catcher car caught and passed us. I’m pretty sure we were the first to be caught, which in my mind was a win! Because if I wasn’t going to be the last one caught, I may as well be the first!

Soaking wet and full of adrenaline, Katie, Wags and I made our way through the colorful streets of Vienna and back to the starting line area. We received our medals and joined the celebration party. It wasn’t long before a hot shower, dry clothes and a Weissbier beckoned us to retreat to our hotel.

Overall, the 2019 Wings for Life World Run in Vienna was a bucket list experience I will never forget. The global event has raised over 3.9 million dollars so far, with more still coming in! It was a tremendous honor to participate and support this great cause and to do it in a supremely unique way. You can bet I’ll be lined up again next year.

So if you are at all interested in running, walking, or rolling for a very special cause, please consider joining me next year at the starting line… Wings For Life World Run May 3, 2020

-Cheers, Aaron

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