Looking Forward: 20 More Years

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on May 31, 2022 # Commitment

Regina BlyeI arrived at the National Paralysis Resource Center (NPRC) this spring—twenty years after Dana Reeve first opened its doors. As the new Chief Program and Policy Officer, my mission is to lead the NPRC’s work in the here and now—but with the 20th anniversary celebration underway, I can’t help but reflect on our beginnings.

Dana was determined to ease the struggle of families fighting to rebuild their lives after spinal cord injuries. The NPRC provided the information and resources that were urgently needed—and much more; it shone a light where there had once been darkness, empowering a community with knowledge and unwavering support.

Twenty years later, it’s clear to me and thousands of other people living with paralysis that Dana‘s vision for the NPRC captured something essential to every life—dignity. She understood what is too often forgotten by people who have no personal experience with disability: we deserve the same opportunities to define ourselves, to live and work independently, and to pursue joy in whatever way we choose.

It is my hope that the NPRC’s future amplifies its past. We’ve built a vast library for community members, including our comprehensive Paralysis Resource Guide and state-by-state contact information on everything from assistive technology loan libraries to adaptive sports teams. We connect people with peer mentoring and oversee community grants whose broader impact changes lives.

Our extraordinary team of Information Specialists have served more than 114,000 people, many in the midst of reconciling a life altered by injury, disease, or age. These are difficult moments, but the steady compassion of our team not only guides these families toward brighter days but creates a connection with the NPRC that often lasts a lifetime. To me, there is no better testament to the strength of this organization than a community that chooses to turn to us again and again.

But when I think of those 114,000 people served so far, I also worry about who we are missing—people living with paralysis whose lives might be healthier, more independent, and better supported with help from the NPRC—if only they knew we were here.

Expanding our outreach efforts to rural and minority populations is crucial. We will seek new collaborations with churches and community groups who can help carry NPRC’s mission to those who need us. We are also updating our digital and print materials to be as inclusive and accessible as possible for those who live with paralysis and other conditions, including limited vision.

Spotlighting the health and economic disparities that continue to affect people with disabilities is another NPRC priority; alongside the resources, we’ve already created on how to find fulfilling jobs or overcome barriers when seeking preventative care. We will increase our campaigns to raise awareness about these inequities among policymakers advocating for change.

We will ensure our work is able to continue, uninterrupted, by building bridges with organizations whose commitment to our mission includes the funding and support to sustain it for decades to come.

I believe strongly in the spirit of partnership—with our outstanding team, with the Administration for Community Living, and with the families we serve. The fundamental mission that inspired Dana Reeve remains true today. Then and now, the NPRC is dedicated to supporting individuals and families through days that are filled with both challenges and joy, and lives that are ever-evolving with age and new experiences. We will continue to be guided by the needs of our community and work tirelessly to reach all who need us.

Regina Blye, Chief Program and Policy Officer, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.