© Mykyta Zavilinskyi

Year in Review – This Was Our 2021


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One team – one goal: a cure for spinal cord injuries. Wings for Life uses your donations to advance spinal cord research. What may sound a tad dry at times is in fact exciting, enthralling, and moving on a day-to-day basis. Would you like some insights into our everyday life? Here we go.

What reminded us of our cause
Brave individuals like Philipp. The then 22-year-old suffered a spinal cord injury while sleepwalking. Ever since, he is unable to move his legs, experiences neuralgia, and cannot feel anything from his navel down. “I miss being spontaneous, the ease of it,” he told us. And we would like nothing more than to restore those feelings for him.

 (Henry Welisch)
© Henry Welisch

What moved us particularly this year
The Wings for Life World Run. On the 9th of May, an incredible 184,236 people around the globe formed the largest team ever recorded to participate on our foundation’s behalf. They all joined in via the app to raise a staggering 4.1 million Euros for research – causing goosebumps and tears of joy throughout our team!

 (Daniel Sommer)
© Daniel Sommer

What gave us reason for hope
The RESET Study. Stephen Strittmatter, a neuroscientist at Yale University, succeeded in achieving important milestones in his clinical trial in 2021. An active substance designed to induce damaged nerves to regrow and reconnect was tested in several patients suffering from chronic complete spinal cord injuries. Strittmatters’ trial substance serves as a decoy to intercept various body proteins that prevent these recovery processes in the spinal cord tissue. It is applied via repeated spinal fluid punctures at lumbar spine level. As planned, 50 patients have now been admitted to the study. The evaluation of the data is eagerly anticipated for the coming year.

 (Martin Lugger)
© Martin Lugger

What was particularly enjoyable
The Summit Meeting. Our charity dinner in 2021 was so much more than an entertaining evening in traditional garments such as “dirndls” and “lederhosen”. The accompanying auction raised 522,550 Euros. “This is absolutely incredible, a dream come true,” a visibly moved Anita Gerhardter said after the result of the fundraiser was announced.

 (Andreas Schaad, Jörg Mitter)
© Andreas Schaad, Jörg Mitter

What cost us strength
The Trials Finder. Now that the hurdles of programming have been overcome, the unique platform is finally up and running. The objective: to match spinal cord injury patients with clinical trials. Yes!

What made us proud
The pandemic edition of the Scientific Meeting. The who’s who of spinal cord research were forced to exchange ideas online in 2021. “The dedicated virtual platform was worthy of an international scientific symposium. Researchers from all over the world tuned in. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, even enthusiastic in some cases. Many new insights prove that the effort was certainly justified,” says a proud Scientific Director Jan Schwab.

 (Brandmood)
© Brandmood

What lured us to the cinema
Penguin Bloom. The story of our ambassador Sam Bloom truly tugs at your heartstrings. Severely traumatised by a spinal cord injury, a mother of three is supported by a magpie, of all things, in regaining her happiness. A touching film starring Oscar winner Naomi Watts.

 (Sam Bloom)
© Sam Bloom


Thank you for sticking with us throughout this year and for supporting us with your generous donations. We look forward to an exciting, stimulating, and positive 2022. Your Wings for Life team.

 (Andreas Schaad / Wings for Life)
© Andreas Schaad / Wings for Life