Team Fight To Walk (TFTW) was created to bring spinal cord injury clinical trials to the United States. The inspiration of co-founders Captain Boyd Melson and Christan Zaccagnino, Team Fight to Walk brings together the dreams of those who are paralyzed and those conducting research and clinical trials. TFTW embodies the spirit of joining together to fight for the cure ‘one punch at a time.”
An unlikely pair, the West Point cadet and the young woman in a wheelchair, but their chance encounter in 2002 changed the face of raising money for the most expensive part of developing effective treatments, conducting human clinical trials. Combining their passion and skills they launched a campaign unlike anything previously seen.
In the beginning their journey was personal as they traveled the world trying to find a cure for Christan. During that search for cutting-edge treatments, one name kept appearing, Dr. Wise Young, Founding Director of the W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University. Named by TIME magazine as “America’s Best in Spinal Cord Research,” Dr. Young had started human clinical trials in Hong Kong and China. Meeting Dr. Young, hearing his story, and seeing his passion and care for people, Christan and Boyd immediately knew they had found a partner and fellow fighter.
Boyd had been a boxer at West Point winning many awards including three-time All-American, All-Army Boxing Championship Gold Medalist, World Military Boxing Champion, 2005 U.S. Nationals Bronze Medalist, and an alternate spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team. Now a captain in the Army Reserve, he was being urged to turn professional. He approached Christan with the possibility of turning the profits from his purses towards bringing the clinical trials to the U.S. She replied, “You know what your legend is supposed to be.” and Team Fight to Walk was born.
Other boxers and celebrities joined Team Fight to Walk providing publicity and financial support. In May 2013, the Inaugural Fighting for the Cure Gala rocked the walls of B.B. Kings in New York City and raised $100,000. Team Fight to Walk is now a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit.
The story of Boyd and Christan and their partnership with Dr. Young and his fight for a cure has captured the imagination of the media and has been covered by several major outlets including The Wall Street Journal, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and many other national and international publications. Their efforts are begin to bring promise as clinical trials in China are showing significant results, intensifying their commitment to expand the clinical trials in China, India, and Norway, and most importantly, to bring them to the United States as quickly as possible.