Wings for Life is a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation. Our mission is to find a cure for spinal cord injury. We fund world-class scientific research and clinical trials around the globe aimed at healing the injured spinal cord.
The driving forces behind Wings for Life are the two-time motocross world champion Heinz Kinigadner and the founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz. In 2003, Kinigadner's son Hannes had a tragic accident which left him tetraplegic. Moved by the dreadful injury, Kinigadner and Mateschitz invited leading scientists from across the world to come to Salzburg. It soon became clear that, contrary to common opinion, there is legitimate reason to hope that traumatic spinal cord injury can be cured. Ground-breaking discoveries made by Prof. Dr. Sam David in 1981 and by Prof. Dr. Martin Schwab in the early 1990s showed that injured nerve cells in the spinal cord are capable of regeneration after specific types of treatment. Kinigadner and Mateschitz soon realised that research into spinal cord injury was underfunded.