Mike Shaw: How running changed my life

For Mike Shaw, running was never a passion – until he dislocated his neck at C4/C5 in 2013, while skiing in Colorado. Then he longed to run. The Wings for Life World Run has touched his life in extraordinary ways.

Running for recovery

It’s such a privilege to be mobile, fast and agile – I totally took it for granted before. Running takes a lot more effort for me now, but I am truly grateful for every step I can make on my own two feet. I give it my all, especially in the Wings for Life World Run.

Every year, I use it as my benchmark for healing. I’ve gone from 9.87 km in my first run in Niagara Falls 2015 to 12.5 km, running in Vancouver in 2018. For 2020, I was aiming for 14 km, which was an insanely lofty goal, but I really like to push beyond my expectations. If you shoot for the moon and fall short, at least you’ll land in the stars.

Running with friends

My first Wings for Life World Run was an incredible experience. It was like magic, running beside the falls as the sun rose behind the mist coming off Niagara. Sharing the experience with my mentor and friend, Josh Dueck, was pretty sweet, too.

In 2016, my documentary The Healing Agent premiered in Toronto in the lead up to my second Wings for Life World Run, which added to the excitement of the event.

Since then, I’ve run in an Organized App Run at home in Vancouver, BC – starting at 4am – with my solid crew of Wings for Life World Run supporters. It’s such a great feeling, all being part of it together. And I love knowing that guys like Ben Leclair and Kevin Rempel are out east, holding it down for Wings for Life World Run and spinal cord injury (SCI) research, too. Those guys rule.

The SCI community

Wings for Life World Run gives me a sense of community. My disability is practically invisible, so being part of the event is special to me. I get how lucky I am to be able to run, so I try my best to follow the Wings for Life World Run mantra and run for those who can’t.

In 2017, I connected with Jim Mullan, an incomplete quadriplegic on the east coast. We shared our experiences of living with an incomplete spinal cord injury and we quickly became friends.

I told Jim about how I used the Wings for Life World Run App Run as motivation for therapy and recovery. One day he said, "Wouldn’t it be cool if we got enough people together on the App to run the distance across the country, from Vancouver to Halifax.”

The birth of #TeamCoast2Coast

I was like, “Man! Jim! What did you just say!? That’s the best idea! Let’s do it.” And the rest is history, now in our 3rd year the team has grown to 9 Organized App runs across the country and over a dozen ambassadors supporting our #TeamCoast2Coast initiative.

In previous years, our goal has always been to cover 5,500 km, which is the distance from Vancouver to Halifax. We have some amazing people on board, from professional mountain bikers to Paralympians, professional athletes and marathon runners, all supporting the cause.

With our united effort, Canadians run coast to coast (and then some). The money we raise goes directly to research that will help find a cure and better treatments for SCI. We know it’s possible.

Sign up for the Wings for Life World Run 2023 and join #TeamCoast2Coast to help Mike and Jim reach their team goal of covering 5,500 km – every kilometer tracked on the app in Canada will count towards their goal.