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Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Unveils Public Service Announcement

Message Features Promising Experimental Spinal Cord Therapy

Short Hills, NJ – March 14, 2012 – The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the nation's leading nonprofit providing care to those living with paralysis and advancing research into treatments and cures for spinal cord injury, today unveiled "Reverse," a public service announcement (PSA). The PSA is designed to spread awareness and bolster support of research to find cures for spinal cord injury. The advertisement is available for viewing at ChristopherReeve.org/epi.

The PSA, developed by the Reeve Foundation's advertising partner BBDO New York, and directed by Greg Ramsey, features Rob Summers, a former college baseball pitcher, who was completely paralyzed from the chest down in 2006 after being struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run accident. Today, Summers is able to stand and step with assistance on a treadmill and move his legs voluntarily. These unprecedented outcomes are the result of his participation in a landmark scientific study of a novel experimental therapy that combines continual direct epidural stimulation of his lower spinal cord with intense locomotor training (assisted stepping on a treadmill). The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Reeve Foundation.

Summers were the first-ever human participant in this groundbreaking research, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet in May 2011.

The creative visual imagery, includes the use of falling dominoes to represent a spinal cord injury's devastating effects -- which are physical, as well as emotional and societal.

John Osborn, president of BBDO New York and Chair of the Reeve Foundation's Communications Committee, stated, "Rob's story is extraordinarily compelling. His bigger-than-life personality and drive are an inspiration that we felt compelled to share. We want to invite the world to learn more and to feel what we feel -- that this is a huge breakthrough and proof positive of progress being made in this field."

Peter T. Wilderotter, president and CEO of the Reeve Foundation, said, "The reverse effect of the dominoes evokes Rob's journey, and invites others to rise with him, as we do. We are so grateful to our friends at BBDO New York, who, once again, selflessly devoted their talents and hours of their time to help us further our mission and provide a call to action to support the paralysis community."

"I am the first person in the world to ever participate in the epidural stimulation project, and to have achieved this recovery is life-changing," said Rob Summers. "Although my Major League Baseball dreams were dashed that night in 2006, I think this is much more impactful than anything I could have ever done before my injury."

Nearly 5.6 million Americans live with some form of paralysis, defined as a central nervous system disorder resulting in difficulty or an inability to move the upper or lower extremities. Of those, 1.275 million paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury.

Plans for a full-scale campaign, featuring print advertising, are also being explored by BBDO and the Reeve Foundation. In addition to BBDO, other organizations which have donated their time and efforts to this campaign include production partners Curious Pictures, @radical media, The Station, Trivers Myers Music, media agency OMD and media properties Hulu and NCM.

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders