Will-To-Win Classic

Will-to-Win Classic History

1983: Bill Heindl, who had suffered a spinal cord injury, approached Les Allen and Don Baizley with the idea of organizing some method of raising funds for spinal cord research on an ongoing basis.

1984: The idea to have a fund raising event was developed. The vehicle was a 2 day golf tournament. A commitment to raise $125,000 over 5 years was made by the Will-to-Win Committee. The Will-to-Win Classic was born with its inaugural tournament that year.

1987: Due to the $125,000 of funds committed in 1984 to the University of Manitoba and the opportunity for matching funds, the Spinal Cord Research Centre (SCRC) was established at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Larry Jordan, the first director of the SCRC, has stated “Without the funds committed in 1984 by the Will to Win Classic the SCRC would not exist.”

1987-2018: The Will-to-Win funding attracted spinal cord research scientists to the SCRC. They were called “Will to Win Scholars”. This funding was extremely important in attracting and retaining SCRC researchers. Seven of these scholars were funded from 1987 to 2008, including two clinician/scientists.

The Will-to-Win funds were used to develop new software and analysis tools required to support the study of spinal cord regeneration at the cellular level as well as within the human spinal cord studies of movement and improved function.

Some Will-to-Win donations were utilized to offset the salaries of the technicians at the SCRC, without whom the valued research could not have been conducted.

Between 2004 and 2014 the SCRC hosted two symposiums which attracted spinal cord research scientists from around the world to Winnipeg to discuss cutting edge research into solutions for those who live with spinal cord injuries. Both these symposiums were paid for in large part with Will-to-Win dollars.

2009-2013: A five year commitment was made to raise $700,000 to fund the “Will-to-Win Gifted Professorship”. These monies ensured a Will-to-Win Scholar’s (Dr. Kristine Cowley) academic position in the U of M Faculty of Medicine would be funded by the Will-to-Win leading to a tenure position in the Physiology Department at the medical school. Dr. Cowley is now a tenured professor at the U of M.

2015-2019: The Will-to-Win made a commitment to provide $500,000 in funding toward the development of the Human Spinal Cord Research Facility on the SCRC premises. This ensured leverage of additional provincial and federal funding which has allowed this endeavour to come to fruition in 2018. As a result, provision and modification of adequate space for this research facility is now a university priority.

2017-2019: The Will-to-Win committed dollars to fund two PhD students studying with the SCRC scientists. The goal is to create an environment where young talented researchers can contribute to the current research and be an integral part of the succession planning at the SCRC.

The money provided by the Will-to-Win participants has been extremely important to the evolution of the Spinal Cord Research Centre. The tournament, which began with 60 competitors, has grown to almost twice that size in recent years. The original five year commitment to raise funds has continued through 35 years and its effects will continue into the future.

Dr. Larry Jordan and Dr. Kristine Cowley, 1996 

Dr. Larry Jordan, former director of the SCRC:

“Spinal cord research has benefited from the Will-to-Win Classic in several major ways. The first of these is the fact that formation of the Winnipeg Spinal Cord Research Centre would never have been possible without the initial investment provided by the Will-to-Win funds.

“The prospect of a continuing source of funds dedicated to spinal cord research prompted the creation of the Centre, and made possible the recruitment of talented young scientists.”

Video Presentation on Will-to-Win Classic (13 minutes, MP4)

Will-To-Win Web pages courtesy of SCRC