Londoners to lace up in support of spinal cord injury research

Wings for Life World Run is a charity event that's set to take place around the globe this weekend in support of spinal cord research, including London, Ont.

The annual Wings for Life World Run is on at Springbank Park Sunday

Runners at the starting line for the Wings for Life World Run in Niagara Falls, 2016. (Wings for Life World Run)

A unique charity run is set to take place around the world this weekend in support of spinal cord injury research, including an event in London, Ont.

The Wings for Life World Run begins at 7 a.m. Sunday, May 5th, at the Springbank Garden Pavilion at 285 Wonderland Rd South.

The annual event will see runners around the world cross the start line at the same time. That means when runners in London cross the starting line on Sunday morning, runners in Sydney, Australia, will be taking their first paces at 9 p.m. their local time.

In Canada, there are eight cities hosting local events with each team led by a spinal cord injury ambassador who is running for those who can't.

One of those leaders is Pauly Plewa. In 2012, he was a 17-year-old rising Motocross star, but he broke his back in a crash during a practice run, leaving him paralysed. Despite doctors telling him he would only have a 2 per cent chance of walking again, Plewa was determined to beat the odds.

"It's been just over seven years now and I'm on my own two feet," said Plewa, who was a guest on CBC's Afternoon Drive show on Friday.

"I use no assistance devices. I do walk with a limp, so people usually think that I have a knee problem or a hip problem, sometimes an ankle problem, but when I tell them that I have a broken back and two titanium rods in my spine, they get dumbfounded and have a loss for words."

Now, Plewa is using his recovery to inspire others as he gears up to run for Wings for Life in Dunsville, Ont. on Sunday.

"I took it upon myself that I needed to regain as much independence as I could and recover as best as I could and use this platform as a tool to motivate others and to inspire others to keep fighting for the passion that they have in their life," he said.

In London, there's a team of physicians and researchers from the St. Joseph's Parkwood Institute who will be heading the run. Those doctors and nurses work with spinal cord injury patients on their recovery and rehabilitation, as well as conducting research.

Wings for Life goes high tech

A new feature to the run this year is the introduction of a mobile app. Organizers designed the app so no matter where you live, if you want to participate, you can be part of the run.

Teams will be using the app to log their distance, with a goal of collectively hitting 5,550 kilometres across Canada.

All of the money raised by Wings for Life World Run goes to research to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. To date, the event has raised funding for 30 studies across the country, including Ontario.

What you need to know

  • Wings for Life World Run
  • Starts at 7 a.m., Sunday, May 5
  • Springbank Garden Pavilion at 285 Wonderland Rd South

For more information on the event, visit