Every year, it’s a joyous scene, and this time the event’s simultaneous global kick-off at 11am UTC will be even more special: In a first-of-its-kind moment, David Mzee, who was paralyzed in a 2010 gymnastics accident, will stand up and walk the initial meters across the start line on his own, thanks to a recent research breakthrough. 100 percent of all entry fees and donations for the Wings for Life World Run will go to the not-for-profit foundation Wings for Life, which supports David Mzee’s clinical trial and other cutting-edge studies. There is still time to register for the event and participate anywhere in the world.
Just a few months ago, the first images of David rising from his wheelchair and taking shaky but independent steps were compelling. After his accident, he had been told he would never walk again; yet he was not only standing and walking, but doing so on his own. The smile on his face said it all.
The news has been enthusiastically received in the Wings for Life World Run community. Wings for Life identifies and supports the most promising spinal cord research internationally, and from early on the foundation backed the Swiss research team led by Professors Grégoire Courtine and Jocelyne Bloch, who developed the breakthrough trial. The treatment, called STIMO (Stimulation Movement Overground), involves an implant that beams electrical pulses into the spine that stimulate the leg muscles.
In fact, David was one of three men with paralysis who were able to walk with stimulation as a result of the trial, which is still ongoing. Adding to the excitement, David and another patient have also been able to take some steps when the stimulation is turned off, an important development that was unexpected even for the researchers.
It’s phenomenal progress that is already improving the lives of the trial’s subjects, which makes the next phases of research even more critical. And that’s why David is joining thousands globally in the Wings for Life World Run.
When David walks those first steps across the Wings for Life World Run starting line, the moment will be a milestone: a victory not only for him, but for everyone in the global movement to find a cure. His participation will give fresh hope to the millions everywhere affected by spinal cord injury.
Thanks to the unique race format, David, starting in Zug, Switzerland, will be joined simultaneously by participants across the planet, walking, running and rolling at event locations or with the Wings for Life World Run App. From costumed fun runners to wheelchair users and competitive marathon and ultrarunner athletes, as they race ahead of a moving finish line known as the Catcher Car, they’ll be racing toward the next medical breakthrough; because 100 percent of their entry fees and donations raised will go to the research supported by Wings for Life.
Those who join David Mzee by crossing the Wings for Life World Run start line on May 5, 2019 – whether at one of the event locations, joining an Organized App Run or running individually with the Wings for Life World Run App – will be part of a historic occasion. In addition, their generosity will help to improve lives as vital spinal cord research continues.