Break out those running shoes! The Wings for Life World Run is happening Sunday, May 7. All participants across the globe begin the run at the same time in a united effort to raise money for spinal cord research and clinical trials. Some cities have formal events, but here in Austin, runners will be downloading an app to participate. Thirty minutes after the start, a “Catcher-Car” is released, either virtually or in real life, and chases the runners, gradually speeding up until every runner is caught. Once the car reaches you, you’re done! There’s no required distance to the finish line, and you can set your own pace and goals. The unique setup makes it a race for everybody, of every ability—young kids, casual joggers, wheelchair users, famous runners, you name it. Whether you’re coming out to beat the world record (54.95 miles) or just looking to support a good cause, the Wings for Life run is a great way to get active.
The Wings for Life Foundation is a major player in this important fundraising cause. Since only about two million people suffer from serious spinal cord injuries, government or private money for it can sometimes be scarce.
“We’re a very small population,” says Laurie Allen, the organizer for the Austin team. “I would definitely say research is underfunded, relative to groups like cancer research and diabetes.”
Wings for Life is working to solve that. After three annual runs, the international charity event has raised over 15 million dollars to fund ground-breaking discoveries for people with spinal cord issues like Allen.
Two years ago, she was paralyzed in an accident. At the time, Allen had been passionate about triathlons for more than a decade, finishing about 75 triathlons, including nine Ironmans. Her love for the challenging sport and the encouragement she found in Austin motivated her to continue to pursue triathlons.
“I’m so fortunate that I’m here in Austin, because it’s such a great triathlon community,” Allen says. “When I had my accident, it was unbelievable how much support I received from them. A lot of my friends, many of whom have become family to me now, I met through triathlon. That sense of community is amazing.”
Allen plans to compete in her first triathlon since her accident this coming fall, but first, there’s the Wings for Life World Run. Download the app and join Laurie Allen and other Austin runners at The Chive at 6 a.m. sharp and become a part of the cause.