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Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation – Past & Present

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
636 Morris Turnpike
Suite 3A
Short Hills, NJ 07078

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One Degree of Separation: Paralysis and Spinal Cord Injury in the United States, a 2009 study conducted by the Reeve Foundation, showed there are nearly 1 in 50 people living with paralysis; that is approximately 6 million people, of whom 1,275,000 are spinal cord injured. That number is nearly 33% higher than previous estimates show.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information, and advocacy.

The Reeve Foundation started as a grass-roots movement, led by pioneers who refused to accept the long-standing dogma that once damaged, the injured spinal could never be repaired. In 1982, New Jersey teenager Henry Stifel was involved in a car accident that left him with quadriplegia at the age of 17. Led by Henry's father, the family mobilized friends, neighbors, scientists, bankers, and local political leaders to form a foundation to raise money for spinal cord research.

Just a few years later, in an effort to maximize resources and avoid duplication, the Stifel Paralysis Research Foundation and the American Paralysis Association (APA) joined forces in the mid-1980s under the APA banner. Through its support of cutting edge basic science, the APA changed the field of paralysis research; transforming it from an obscure specialty practiced by a few scientists in isolated labs to one of the most exciting areas of neuroscience.

In 1995, when Christopher Reeve was injured, the APA was one of the first places that he and Dana turned to. Christopher had formed his own foundation, which he came to realize had much in common with the APA (to which he was elected Chairman of the Board in 1996). In 1999, the APA and Christopher's foundation came together as the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which added Dana's name to its moniker after her untimely death in March of 2006.

Christopher and Dana were never celebrity figureheads. They were hands-on, activist leaders, who rallied a swelling chorus of voices advocating for people living with paralysis, even establishing a presence in Washington, D.C. They recognized that the true heroes in the spinal cord injured community are those living with paralysis and their families. Recently it was said, "Christopher created a culture of hope… and it was contagious."

Today, through the Reeve Foundation's persistence and promise, neuroscientists around the world agree that repairing the damaged spinal cord is not a question of if, but a question of when.

Research Programs
Today, the Foundation is recognized as the premier spinal cord injury (SCI) research organization throughout the world. Since 1982, the Reeve Foundation has awarded more than $81 million to researchers around the world. Our research strategies cover an entire spectrum beginning with recruiting new investigators to the field of SCI research, to providing seed money to basic researchers that eventually develop breakthroughs supported by the National Institutes of Health and other funding sources, to efforts in taking bench research into the clinic for application in patients around the globe. Our mission is simple, but the method requires the collaboration of the best and brightest minds in neuroscience. To that end, the Foundation gathers the most distinguished researchers in order to build a true laboratory without walls.

  • International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury
    The mission of the Reeve Foundation International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury is to promote structural repair and functional recovery in the acutely and chronically injured spinal cord. The Consortium pursues this mission through collaborative research that focuses on how to optimize the intrinsic capacity of the adult nervous system to repair and remodel itself as well as how to elicit robust regenerative responses after injury. Consortium projects are organized around the four themes of Tissue Repair, Activators and Enhancers of Regeneration and Neural Function, Inhibitors of Growth, and Physical Therapy and Training.

  • NeuroRecovery Network (NRN)
    The Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) is a network of cutting-edge rehabilitation centers which develop and expand access to activity-based therapies. The locomotor training (LT) that NRN centers are now deploying is the result of research that the Reeve Foundation began supporting decades ago.

  • The North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN)
    The North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN) is one more way that the Reeve Foundation is moving promising therapies from the lab to spinal cord injured patients. NACTN is working hard to insure that any clinical trial will be done in a way that maximizes both patient safety and our ability to gather valid, meaningful data. NACTN is an international network of hospitals with highly trained personnel and uniform protocols and data collection that help to ensure safety for all trial subjects and interpretable trial data.

Quality of Life Program
The Reeve Foundation funds a variety of national, regional, and local initiatives that benefit both children and adults living with paralysis, especially those with spinal cord injuries. Since 1999, the Reeve Foundation's Quality of Life program has provided 2,300 grants totaling more than $17 million to organizations that help improve the quality of life for individuals living with paralysis and mobility impairments, and their families. This program recognizes the unique and numerous needs of these individuals and the importance of providing services and programs that enable them to participate in all areas of life. Grants are awarded twice a year in three categories that we call the ABCs: Actively Achieving, Bridging Barriers, and Caring and Coping.

Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center (PRC)
In May 2002, the PRC opened its doors to promote the health and well being of people living with paralysis and their families by providing comprehensive information resources and referral services. The PRC, guided by a Paralysis Task Force, houses a national clearinghouse library of paralysis-related publications, maintains a constantly evolving self-help Web site, and publishes an extensive print manual, The Paralysis Resource Guide. The PRC is equipped to address inquiries in more than 50 languages through the help of real-time translation services.

The Reeve Foundation believes that within knowledge lies hope. Therefore, we not only pursue financial support, but we vigorously work to increase federal dollars towards paralysis research through several avenues. We educate lawmakers about the impact of paralysis and the promise of therapies, and we make sure that disability rights remain a priority. We advocate for and propose legislation important to the disability community. We serve as the catalyst that empowers individuals to participate in the public policy debate. In these ways and more, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation stands up for the 5.6 million Americans who can't.

Military Programs
In 2008, the Reeve Foundation's military programs, was one of the most significant achievements; building on important Military Outreach efforts within the Paralysis Resource Center and creating a more expansive program. As troops continue to be engaged overseas, and, while advances in military medicine are raising survival rates, many more of our soldiers are returning with paralyzing injuries, including traumatic brain injury with mobility impairments. The Reeve Foundation is continuing to reach out with a section of the Foundation's website dedicated to veterans and a military hotline.

Team Reeve
Team Reeve unites all of the competitors who challenge themselves in the name of the Reeve Foundation. Team Reeve is a young initiative, in action only since 2005, but its numbers are growing exponentially, along with the breadth of sports, events, and activities in which our members participate. The Team Reeve All Stars tackle a host of athletic events and create their own personal fitness challenges that create meaning help others.

Chapters are the Reeve Foundation's future. These local and regional affiliates in Arizona, Chicago, Colorado, New England, Salt Lake City, and San Diego, with more on the way, are formed and run by volunteer steering committees, and are enormously important in raising awareness and expanding fundraising opportunities with individuals, foundations, and corporations.

Chapter activities are as diverse and creative as their members, and have included fundraising events, educational programs, public relations and media outreach, and outreach to trauma and rehabilitation centers, Quality of Life recipients, and members of the scientific community.

Board of Directors

Press Contact:

Rebecca Laming
Senior Director, Marketing & Communications
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders