Q&A with Anita Gerhardter

Wings for Life CEO Anita Gerhardter answers common questions about the charitable foundation she leads, the important research underway and how everyone can make a difference for people living with spinal cord injury.

Anita, why is finding a cure for spinal cord injury important to you personally?

AG: Finding a cure is a matter very close to my heart. I know so many people who are affected by this dreadful type of injury, and I admire their mental and physical strength and how they cope with their daily life so full of obstacles, difficulties and deprivations. It would be wonderful to give these people bodily functions back – for example, being able to breathe on their own, move their fingers and legs – that would change their lives tremendously.

What kinds of research does the foundation support?

AG: The goal of Wings for Life is to find biological repair strategies. To do so, we support all approaches, in various stages of development. Key for us is that the proposals have the potential to provide real benefits for patients. 

What determines whether a project receives funding?

AG: We base the decision on a whole catalogue of criteria. The research project in question should bring us a step closer to finding a cure. In order to ensure that we fund only the most promising projects, we have developed an elaborate selection process.

How can someone be part of a research study? 

AG: The trials are based at hospitals or clinical centers, which recruit the patients. Every clinical trial investigates a specific scientific question, and that is why every clinical trial has specific enrollment criteria. Whether a patient is eligible to participate in a trial has to be decided by the recruiting study center, and we also recommend that the patient discuss such a decision with his or her treating physician. Participation in a clinical study should be considered very carefully. 

What does the Wings for Life World Run mean for the foundation?

AG: There’s no way to fully express how valuable the Wings for Life World Run is for our cause. It is our major fundraising event and helps to accelerate scientific progress. Also, it brings global attention to the cause itself.

How much money has been raised by the event to date?

AG: Due to the generous support of all participants, donors and sponsors of the Wings for Life World Run, we’ve been able to raise the incredible amount of 27.2 million euros so far. 

How much of the money raised actually goes to research projects?

AG: Because all our administrative costs are kindly covered by the Red Bull company, one hundred percent of all donations are used for research purposes.

How can someone help during the lead-up to the run on May 3, 2020, and even afterward?

AG: There are many opportunities to support us throughout the whole year. People can do a fundraiser, or simply spread the word about our important cause. We highly appreciate the support of each and every person!

Join Anita and the Wings for Life foundation in the global movement to find a cure for spinal cord injury. Sign up for the Wings for Life World Run 2020, or donate anytime.