The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Today’s Care – Tomorrow’s Cure

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Actor, Christopher Reeve was born on September 25th, 1952. In 1955, his family moved to Princeton where he spent his childhood. From there he went to Cornell University and then to Julliard Drama School, after which he landed numerous roles in theater, television, and the big screen. Some might recognize his role as Superman in the movie Super- man 1 in 1979. It was followed by three more Superman sequels. Others might remember him as the lead with Jane Seymour in the movie, Somewhere in Time. Not only was he a talented actor, he was a loving husband, father, accomplished athlete, author, human rights activists, director, pilot, and accomplished pianist.

In 1995 he became paralyzed from the neck down following a horse competition in Virginia. He broke the top two vertebrae and severed his spinal cord, thus becoming a high-level quadriplegic. He needed a ventilator to breathe for the rest of his life. After months of rehab and therapy, he returned home with his wife, Dana, and his three children, Matthew, Alexandria, and Will by his side, as he began to adjust to his new life. Finding spinal cord research pretty much at a standstill, he decided to use his celebrity status. Knowing that he could make a tremendous difference, he gave a platform and a voice to others in the community who were living with spinal cord injury. (SCI)

His Foundation, The Christopher Reeve Foundation, merged with the American Paralysis Association to become the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation in 1999 to fuel
cutting research on spinal cord injuries. He not only put a human face on spinal cord injury but motivated neuroscientists around the world to come together and disprove the long standing dogma that cures for spinal cord injury were not possible. He urged the scientists to work faster and harder to help uncover cures and new treatments to improve quality of life. He spoke to legislators to increase awareness and federal funding for spinal cord research.

Christopher and Dana’s mission can be summed up in four words, Today’s Care. –Tomorrow’s Cure., which reflects the dual purpose set forth to provide a continuum of hope for individuals living with paralysis worldwide. Today’s Care comes from the Foundation’s Paralysis Resource Center, (PRC) which is funded through a grant from the Administration for Community Living, a Department of Health and Human Services. The PRC provides one on one support to individuals living with all forms of paralysis, and their caregivers, with free comprehensive national support through a source of programs. They also created educational tools and resources on relevant topics for their community. Tomorrow’s Cure focuses on the research initiatives, where over $140 million has been invested over the last two decades on cutting edge research to discover treatments and cures for spinal cord injury.

Over the years, after his injury, Christopher stayed active with a work out regiment and eventually was able to move his index finger. He never gave up on ever walking again. Sadly, he passed away in 2004 at the age of 52. Dana died just two years later of lung cancer at the age of 44. Following her passing, the Foundation was renamed with both of their names to reflect Dana’s vision and efforts about improving the quality of life for those with paralysis. She was also the mind behind the Foundation’s Quality of Life Grant Program which has given approximately $26 million to over 3,000 fellow non- profits in the U.S.

“Christopher Reeve was a beacon of hope for so many individuals during a time when there were so many stigmas about living with a spinal cord injury,” stated Maggie Goldberg, COO of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “Because of Christopher’s work with researchers and Dana’s work as an ad- vocate for caregivers, they put a spotlight on the issues surrounding the paralysis community and paved a road for progress. Even now, over a decade after their passing’s, their legacies are being fulfilled by those who believe in the mission of our Foundation.”

Their Mission in a nutshell- The Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.

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