The Reeve Legacy: Moving Forward
By Tim Gilmer
You know the story: Famous Superman actor has unthinkable accident, experiences near-death and wrestles with his will to live. Assured by his beautiful wife that she will always be there for him and that his children need him, Christopher Reeve, now a vent-dependent quad, decides he wants to live. In steps a visitor, Dr. Wise Young, while Reeve is still struggling with rehab. The spinal cord injury community needs you, says the premier SCI researcher in the world. Will you be the face of the community?
Reeve was beloved by most, resented by some, but no one can deny his influence, especially in his quest for a “cure.” What many do not appreciate, though, is the vital role of his wife, Dana, the one who championed the foundation’s Quality of Life and Paralysis Resource Center programs. It is her ongoing influence, as well as Christopher Reeve’s, that enabled the foundation to survive after the fledgling nonprofit lost both its founders in the space of less than a year.
While supporting research is still a priority, since 1999, more than $13 million has been awarded in QOL grants to more than 1,700 deserving recipients dedicated to serving the paralysis community. Following Dana’s death, an experienced nonprofit professional, Peter Wilderotter, now CEO, came aboard and guided the foundation through the economic malaise that has devastated numerous nonprofits in the past few years. He is ably supported by Joe Canose, senior vice president for Quality of Life, who has been with the Reeve Foundation for many years. Susan Howley leads the organization’s research efforts, and Maggie Goldberg manages marketing and communications. There are others, of course, too many to name.
The Reeve Foundation is still evolving, reaching deep into the paralysis community to nurture its gr