Those who are disabled have more than their personal limitations to consider. Medical bills and in some cases finding lifetime assistance also become priorities. After a horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed, Christopher Reeve was faced with these challenges and recognized the need to empower and motivate others with similar circumstances through spinal cord injury research.
The story of Christopher Reeve became the impetus for the establishment the foundation. With as much of a passion for horses as he has for helping others, Reeve loved to participate in the horseback riding leisure activity known as eventing, which included show jumping. In May 1995 during the cross-country aspect of an eventing competition in Culpeper, Virginia his horse hesitated at the rail and pitched him forward. Reeve landed head-first and fractured the top vertebra in his spine causing him to be paralyzed immediately. With medical help and surgery, his spinal cord was stabilized yet he would never be able to walk again.
Reeve died in October 2004 after going into cardiac arrest due to an antibiotic response to an infection. Dana Reeve passed away two years later in March 2006 from lung cancer. However, they leave behind them a legacy of making a global impact and improving the lives of the disabled through their spinal cord research programs.
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is identified as the leading spinal cord injury research organization worldwide. The foundation recruits new scientists to the field of spinal cord injury research and provides them with capital for new developments supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The main purpose of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is to give medical help and empowerment to those living with spinal cord injuries. The foundation offers multiple ways to facilitate treatment of these individuals. One of the rehabilitation treatments offered by the foundation is activity-based therapy, which reteaches patients the movement they lost. The organization aims to find research and medical solutions to spinal cord injury that will benefit patients around the globe.
Before becoming the founder of the Christopher Reeve Foundation in 1996, the actor partnered with philanthropist Joan Irvine Smith to build the Reeve-Irvine Research Center in California.
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation continues to give multinational hope to those who are experiencing disabilities from paralysis. In the words of the late Christopher Reeve, “And now that I am disabled, of course my main focus is on the quality of life for all disabled people and doing everything I can to help scientists make progress toward cures.”
– Shanique Wright