Athletes support Wings for Life World Run and reflect on life after a spinal cord injury

spinal cord injury

An estimated three million people have suffered spinal cord injuries. Red Bull’s Wings for Life race honors them all. Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Red Bull's Wings for Life World Run is attempting to pull off an international feat, with folks in 35 countries lining up to run for the three million people living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). So it's no surprise that some equally inspiring athlete ambassadors are representing great hope for the cause that receives 100 percent of the proceeds. We caught up with a few warriors who gave us an honest perspective on life after an SCI.

GrindTV: What is the most compelling life lesson you've learned as an SCI survivor?

Cory Hahn: Arizona State University baseball player paralyzed from the chest down sliding into second base in the first weekend of his freshman season

spinal cord injury

The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Cory Hahn in 2013, paying tribute to Hahn’s talent, perseverance in his recovery, and dedication to the sport. Photo courtesy Cory Hahn

“First, we never know when something can be taken away from us; this means waking up every day and appreciating what we have, because in a split second everything can change. Second, if I'm still breathing, then I'm still living. I could have lost my life, and the fact that I am still alive has taught me to live every day with purpose. Yes, I may not be able to do most of the things I used to, but I can still live my life to the fullest and enjoy each moment!”

spinal cord injury

Brooke Thabit chooses to dwell on the positive sides of living with a spinal cord injury. Photo courtesy Red Bull Wings for Life

Brooke Thabit: Surfer paralyzed after accidentally diving into knee-deep water

“Never take life too seriously. People are always stressing out over small issues that in retrospect really don't alter your life and aren't worth your time and frustration. Just smile, be nice, and enjoy life, or you are going to miss out on a lot of good times.”

Patrick Rummerfield: After years of intensive therapy for paralysis following a tragic car accident, he now identifies as the world's first fully functional quadriplegic.

“Over the years spent writing my book, Green Bananas, I relived all the ups and downs of my life, getting a close look at what makes me tick. It comes down to this: We all have choices to make. We can choose to be happy or sad, to move forward to make the most out of a tough situation or stay where we are and stagnate. I've learned the hard way the importance of turning goals into priorities, and that the words "physically challenged" mean to me learning new ways to achieve goals and never giving up! Believe in your dreams and don't let anyone dissuade you from your goals. Success may be slower and in smaller increments, but the amount of success you can achieve is unlimited if you stay focused on your priorities and persevere.”

spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injury victim Patrick Rummerfield competes in China’s Gobi March, becoming the first physically challenged athlete to finish an adventure-race stage. Photo courtesy Patrick Rummerfield

GrindTV: What advice do you have for other athletes struggling with disabling injuries?
Hahn: “Maintain a positive state of mind and do everything in your ability to get as healthy as possible. Twenty years from now, you don't want to look back and wish you would have worked harder or did more to get better. I have realized through this injury that nothing is impossible to achieve if you set your mind to it.”

Thabit: “Seek the truth; even if you think your life is all about your sport and you can't live without it, you can. Life is really all about having a good time with the people you share it with, no matter what you are doing. When you get seriously injured you will find out who your true friends are. You will be disappointed by some people who don't come around, but you will also be pleasantly surprised by the people that do.”

Rummerfield: “Strive for the joy of achieving your physical goals, regardless of your current physical state. The beauty of physicality is that it is always evolving and changing. You can move your physical being into a new place, allowing you to do more, even in small ways, and the joy that comes from achievement is waiting for you if you never give up and continue to try.”

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The Red Bull Wings for Life World Run takes place on May 4, 2014. Registration is still open.

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