One Voice on behalf of Six Million: Matthew Reeve Advocate In Action
Over the past two months you've had a devoted ally and strong voice on Capitol Hill in Matthew Reeve. Matthew, Christopher Reeve's eldest son, and member of the Board of Directors of the Reeve Foundation came to Capitol Hill in April to meet with Members of Congress, leaders of Federal Agencies and Senior Leadership in the Administration on behalf of all of those impacted by spinal cord injury and paralysis.
During his meetings, Matthew did what you as advocates do. He told his story. He shared how when his fathered suffered his injury resources were hard to locate, and there was no place to go to get the information you needed. He shared the struggles his family encountered, retold the triumphs of breakthroughs, and described firsthand the critical importance of supporting funding for research, and of the importance of funding the Paralysis Resource Center.
During his short stay here, Matthew met with Valarie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama. In this meeting, Matthew was able to talk to one of the President's most trusted advisors about the issues that are important to paralysis community. He spoke directly about the concern of the impact of consolidation on the Paralysis Resource Center, and how critically important the programs the Center provide were to his father, the Foundation and the 5.6 million individuals living with paralysis.
Following up from their meeting, Valarie Jarrett helped the Foundation secure a meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. This meeting provided an amazing opportunity to discuss issues that directly impacted the disability and paralysis community at the highest level. Joining the Reeve Foundation and Matthew were representatives from the Special Olympics, Spina Bifida Association, American Association on Health and Disability, Amputee Coalition, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Genetic Alliance, CHADD and the National Fragile X Foundation.
Advocacy is ongoing, and after his meeting with the Secretary, Matthew submitted testimony to the Labor HHS Subcommittee, on behalf of the Foundation, reemphasizing the importance of funding the Paralysis Resource Center and the negative impact that consolidation would have. (Read Matthew's testimony.)
There are many ways to be an advocate. You can call your Members of Congress, write letters, tell your story, tell a friend, send an email - however you do it, as someone directly impacted by paralysis you have the most powerful advocacy tool – your voice. Our priority is to advocate for you and to ensure your voices are heard, even when you can't be here in person. Matthew's story is an example of how, at certain times, there is great power in having one voice speak on behalf of all of us.