Profiles, Sports

Wings for Life World Run to benefit spinal cord research

Karl Meltzer runs on the Pony Trail, USA on October 24th, 2010. Photo Courtesy Christian Pondella/Red Bull

Karl Meltzer runs on the Pony Trail, USA on October 24th, 2010. Photo Courtesy Christian Pondella/Red Bull

For Brooke Thabit, the ocean has always been her natural habitat. The Stuart, Fla., native was a team rider for the local Ohana Surf Shop until a misjudged dive off a pier changed her life forever.

On impact, Thabit fractured her neck and immediately suffered paralysis. After emergency surgery she has slowly regained limited restoration of sensation and movement in her lower extremities through intensive therapy.

After her accident, Thabit could barely shrug shoulders and had to relearn how to do everything.

“Brushing teeth was a workout,” said Thabit, 18.

Yet through all the hardship, her positive attitude is an inspiration.

“What gets me through definitely is that there will be a cure, hopefully, for spinal cord injuries. To think that I will be able to walk again, or surf again or run again, that definitely helps to try to keep me up when I have a bad day. But also my friends and family have been really supportive,” Thabit said.

In support of spinal cord injury warriors everywhere, Red Bull is sponsoring the Wings for Life World Run on May 4.

The race will take place in 35 different locations, spanning six continents. Runners around the world from Auckland to Barcelona, Cape Town to Lima and in cities across the United States will begin at the same time, 10 a.m. UTC.

This non-traditional race has no official finish line. Runners must keep pace ahead of the “catcher car.” In a sense, the finish line reaches you.

Registration is $50 through April 20 for the Sunrise, Fla. race, which kicks off at 6 a.m. at the BB&T Center. One hundred percent of the entry fees will go to spinal cord research.

Not a runner? Red Bull Wings for Life is accepting volunteers ages 16 and over.

“It’s just another step forward, a chance for me to give back to the running community and maybe get people inspired,” said Red Bull ultra marathoner Karl Meltzer, who visited the UM campus in February to promote the race and host a question and answer session with the Miami running club.

While Meltzer made his name by winning 100-mile races, he is simply proud to be a member of the running community.

“It’s cool to see it evolve,” he said. “We’re a tight-knit bunch, we’re competitive, but we’re not agro-competitive … it’s just a great community and it’s great to see it continue to evolve and see people inspired by it.”

Meltzer and Red Bull are aiming to raise money and awareness for spinal cord research so that athletes like Thabit can reclaim their active lifestyles.

“A spinal cord injury is a crazy injury, they really don’t know anything about it,” Thabit said. “Some people break their neck and recover all on their own and other people don’t, like I didn’t. And it’s not so much of who works harder – they don’t know how far you’ll come. You just have to keep working at it and hope for the best.”


For more information and to register to run or volunteer, visit

April 16, 2014


Kristen Spillane

Senior Sports Writer

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