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Keeping the Vision Alive

Christopher Reeve
Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

The Reeve Foundation was started as a community response to a crisis that has quickly grown into a national movement. The early pioneers who started this Foundation began this work at a time when spinal cord research was considered the graveyard of neurobiology.

Christopher Reeve's injury changed the field forever and it was his vision, his passion, brilliance and creativity that made this one of the most promising fields in research. And while Dana was universally known as the model for care giving, her real legacy is the creation of our Paralysis Resource Center that has reached tens of thousands of those living with paralysis and their families with useful, often life-saving and life-changing information. What inspires us is following through on and achieving in our lifetimes what they so generously and courageously started.

Following is just a small sample of some of our proudest accomplishments since Christopher's death in 2004 and Dana's passing less than two years later. We are honored to be the living legacy of these two most visionary, inspirational and effective individuals.

  • The Reeve Foundation launched the North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN), a network of hospitals that is enrolling newly spinal cord injured patients into a data registry and providing the infrastructure and expertise needed to conduct trials of therapy for spinal cord injury. With numerous spinal cord clinical trials currently underway in the U.S., and more to come in the next few years, NACTN is poised to conduct trials that are capable of indicating the effectiveness of promising therapies for spinal cord repair and insuring patient safety. The network has nine clinical centers, a pharmacological center and a data management/statistical coordinating center. In 2006 the Foundation received a $2.5M Department of Defense award to expand NACTN into military, and eventually VA, hospitals. In 2010, we received an additional $500,000 on that contract and later that year, the DOD awarded a new contract totaling $5,468 million. Today, NACTN has nine clinical centers and Data Management Center and Pharmacology sites. It has just completed its first clinical trial, a Phase I safety study of neuroprotective drug Riluzole, which has been shown to be effective in limiting traumatic damage to the spinal cord in laboratory studies.
  • The Reeve Foundation launched and expanded the NeuroRecovery Network (NRN), a network of rehabilitation centers designed to deliver evidence-based, activity-based therapies to people with spinal cord injury. The network's seven centers and five community fitness and wellness (CFW) facilities have enrolled more than 450 patients in NRN clinical sites and 161 in CFW sites. Through the NRN, the Reeve Foundation is translating laboratory discoveries into therapies that are changing people's lives. It was one of Christopher's priorities to find a way to make this program accessible to everyone, and the NRN is doing that.
  • Since October, 2004, the Reeve Foundation has awarded over $48.5 million for just over 270 research projects that are focused on developing therapies for spinal cord repair.
  • The Reeve Foundation hosted an international stem cell workshop and has since launched a spinal cord stem cell research program under the aegis of its International Research Consortium.
  • Since the inception of the Quality of Life Grants Program, we have awarded over 1,910 Quality of Life grants totaling nearly $15 million to nonprofit organizations worldwide that provide programs and services to individuals living with paralysis and their families.
  • The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center, we have awarded over 1,910 Quality of Life grants totaling nearly $15 million to nonprofit organizations worldwide that provide programs and services to individuals living with paralysis and their families.
  • The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center has received more than one million page views from around the world since 2009, over 49,000 individuals had reached out personally to our information specialists for help and support. Our incredible team of information specialists can respond to inquiries in over 170 languages.
  • We have distributed over 100,000 copies of our free Paralysis Resource Guide in Spanish and English.
  • Our growing team of volunteer ambassadors helps us reach those who may not be aware of all the support and services that can help them live more productive lives. These generous Reeve Foundation ambassadors have already made important contacts with Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, and Native American communities.
  • Our website has been translated into eight languages.
  • In 2009, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act which will expedite the search for cures and treatments for millions of Americans living with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury, stroke, MS, Parkinson's and many other diseases and disorders.
  • Held Reeve Foundation Spinal Cord Symposiums, uniting researchers and members of the spinal cord injury community to encourage dialogue. It also fostered opportunities to establish new collaborations that will be funded through small network grants which are available to Symposium scientists.
  • Grew Team Reeve -- our grassroots athletic fund raising program where anyone doing almost anything can raise money and awareness to fund our critical mission. Team Reeve has raised nearly $3 million since its inception in 2005.
  • Launched the Champions Committee, chaired by Matthew Reeve, Alexandra Reeve Givens, and Francesco Clark, to get young people – the future leaders of the Reeve Foundation -- involved in philanthropy and not-for-profit leadership.
  • Launched the onlineParalysis Community, our social networking website, which includes over 19,000 Facebook likes and over 7,100 Twitter followers, allowing family members, friends, caregivers, and individuals affected by paralysis to join discussion groups, post profiles and photos, and create personal blogs.
  • Created the Danny Heumann Young Scientists Fund. An initiative within the Foundation's Individual Research Grants (IRG) program, which helps ensure that the next generation of spinal cord researchers is being trained in the best environment by the best people and raises critically needed support and awareness to attract the best and brightest young scientists to the field of spinal cord injury research.
  • Merged with the Los Angeles-based Life Rolls On Foundation. As a division of the Reeve Foundation, LRO will continue to produce unique quality of life programs, including its award-winning, adaptive surfing program, They Will Surf Again, as well as education, motivation and awareness initiatives.
  • The study initiated by the Reeve Foundation surveyed over 33,000 households and found that 40 percent more Americans live with paralysis and over five times the number of Americans live with spinal cord injury than previously estimated. Specifically, the survey shows that 1.275 million have had a spinal cord injury and over 5.6 million Americans live with some form of paralysis. The highest previous estimates were 250,000 and roughly four million, respectively.
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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders