Today, in support of the Wings for Life World Run on May 4, 2014, Red Bull ski athletes Nick Goepper and Grete Eliassen, as well as snowboarders Louie Vito and Greg Bretz, joined many fellow Wings for Life supporters for a day of skiing at Loveland Ski Area in Colorado. And, luckily for those in attendance, Ullr graced Loveland with a fresh coat of powder, and, as is the norm at “The Luv,” there wasn’t a lift line in sight. Before heading to the lifts, Red Bull stationed a sign up table in the base lodge, encouraging people to participate in the Wings for Life World Run in Denver.
The event isn’t just your ordinary race for a cause; it’s a race that will truly take place on a global scale. Starting at 10 a.m. UTC on May 4, thousands of runners across the world will race in up to 35 locations spanning the globe, in support of Wings for Life. The Wings for Life foundation provides funding for research into a cure to severe spinal cord injuries.
When Red Bull, one of her sponsors, approached Eliassen about participating in the World Run, she had no hesitation in backing the cause. “For me, I’ve been in the ski industry for a while now, and have seen injuries, death and everything, and this is one thing that I would like to help find a cure for someday,” she says.
She also spoke to the possibility of herself, and other friends in the industry, someday needing the support of a foundation such as Wings for Life. “I’ve just had so many friends that have been affected by a spinal cord injury; that could be me or somebody else I know someday. I just want to do all I can to bring awareness to [the foundation].”
14-year-old Jack Wagner, of Evergreen, Colorado, was also in attendance at Loveland, enjoying powder laps among our group of almost twenty. Wagner’s father was involved in a car accident and suffered a severe spinal injury that has confined him to a wheelchair. Since first learning of the World Run, he has been pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support for Wings for Life and the upcoming event.
“It makes me feel like a ton of people are actually helping,” says Wagner. “At first I thought [the support] was small, but now I hear the run is [taking place] in 35 countries, and it’s unbelievable.”
Wagner spends much of his time shredding the terrain parks at Winter Park Resort, also located along Colorado’s Continental Divide, and was just as eager to get after the fresh pow as the older contingent of attendees. While riding up Chair 1 with Wagner and myself, Eliassen also spoke to the support of the group of that converged upon Loveland:
“I think it’s so cool being at Loveland here today and just skiing with everyone; it’s so much fun,” she says. “It’s so cool that we’re all coming together for this one cause, and I just hope it’ll encourage more people to come out and run.”
Wagner, along with the Red Bull athletes, spent the previous day at the SCI Recovery Project in Denver, a non-profit group that provides exercise recovery programs and therapy for people who have been the victim of a spinal cord injury, or related ailments. There, the athletes trained for the upcoming World Run and Goepper took to Twitter to thank SCI Recovery Project for the experience.
.@SCIRPdenver Truly a life changing experience! Thank you. I’m a life long supporter now.
— Nick Goepper (@NickGoepper) March 18, 2014
In regards to the race on May 4, Eliassen has already hinted that she may have an advantage over her Red Bull teammate, Goepper. “We were racing yesterday at the [SCI Recovery Project] gym, and I think I beat him past the finish line.”
We’ll have to wait until May 4 to see the results. For more on how you can get involved with the Wings for Life World Run, click here. To learn more about Wings for Life, visit their website, or follow them on Instagram.