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by matthew reeve | November 10, 2011 | Lifestyle
It’s a family affiar: Will Reeve, Alexandra Reeve Givens, and Matthew Reeve
Rob Summers works towards recovery
Super son: Matthew Reeve
Peter Kiernan speaks at 18th annual AME Gala
The foundation’s namesakes, Dana and Christopher Reeve
As I write this, the Reeve Foundation is preparing for its premier gala, A Magical Evening, to be held at Cipriani Wall Street on November 30. This event is a celebration of what has been achieved and a time to rally our supporters and recognize the work that still needs to be done.
This year we will honor our great friend Peter D. Kiernan III. After dad and Dana passed away, Peter assumed the role of chairman and led us into a new era of hope and possibility. His expert guidance and steadfast devotion have elevated our work despite a struggling economy, and we are elated to recognize his extraordinary efforts.
At the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, our mission is twofold: to find a cure for spinal cord injuries, and to improve the lives of those living with disabilities. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, every day people around the world are living healthier and more independent lives through the foundation’s continued efforts.
In the spring of 2009 we released the astonishing results of our paralysis population survey, the most comprehensive of its kind. In the US alone, there are 5.6 million people living with some form of paralysis. That is one in every 50 Americans. It affects their family life, their ability to work, and their capacity to enjoy even the most routine activities that we often take for granted. The Reeve Foundation is working tirelessly to change that, and in 2011 we have made significant strides.
Great Scientific Strides
This past May, we announced a major scientific breakthrough, and the inspirational story of Rob Summers made headlines worldwide. In July 2006, at age 25, Rob was completely paralyzed below the chest after being struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run incident. Today he is able to stand and bear weight on his legs, and he can make stepping motions on a treadmill.
Rob recently said, “This procedure has changed my life. As someone who for four years was unable to move a toe, being able to stand on my own is the most amazing feeling. My sense of well-being has completely changed.”
Rob’s progress defies decades of conventional wisdom, and he proved that my father was right all along; rather than allowing his injury to define him, he redefined what was possible for people living with spinal cord injuries.
When my father was injured, there was little reason to believe that a paraplegic person would ever stand again. But he did believe, and through the strength of his conviction, he made it come true. I know that for all of his strength, courage, and determination, my father couldn’t have done it alone. We would not be on the verge of historic advances in the treatment of spinal cord injuries today if it weren’t for those who support our foundation.
In addition to our global research programs, we have provided millions of dollars in funding to nonprofit organizations that promote healthy and independent living for individuals with paralysis, through adaptive yoga, specially trained dogs, and other forms of assistance.
Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my dad and Dana, but I take comfort in knowing that their spirit lives on in the work of the Reeve Foundation. We’ve come further than many would have dreamed possible. As my father once said, “It comes down to us. We all have the power to make an enormous difference.”
photograph by timothy greenfield-sanders (christopher reeve); Jemal Countess/Getty Images (reeve family); Jamie McCarthy (kiernan)