Supporter Spotlight: Debbie Wolpov

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

Debbie Wolpov first met Alan Brown when they shared an office at Slim-Fast’s New York City headquarters in the midst of the diet supplement company’s “Give us a week, we’ll take off the weight” heyday. The young professionals bonded as they worked around the clock managing a steady stream of media events and appearances by celebrity spokespeople, including legendary L.A. Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda.

“It was a wild rollercoaster,” Wolpov says.

But despite their hectic work life, Wolpov quickly realized that Brown could make time for everyone – “When I was pregnant, Alan picked me up and drove me home every day” - and everything. Not long after they met, he was carving space into his schedule for daily circuits around Central Park in his racing wheelchair to train for the New York City Marathon.

“I was so motivated by him,” Wolpov says.

Just two years earlier, Brown had become paralyzed after a powerful wave flipped him over while on vacation in Martinique. The accident changed everything in an instant – but Brown’s exuberance for life remained intact.

“He was incredible, newly injured rolling around in his chair, all around the city,” Wolpov says. “Nothing stopped him. Nothing.”

Brown’s marathon was a success; he not only raised money for the Alan T Brown Foundation – launched by his family in 1989 to support people affected by spinal cord injuries – but also recruited a new runner for the cause.

“After the marathon, he turned to me and said, ‘If I can race in a wheelchair, you can do it, too,’” Wolpov says. “And I did, that next year – cursing him probably every single mile.”

Her cheerful grumbling was just a ruse. Over the next three decades, Wolpov would run (and cycle and swim) in events up and down the east coast, raising thousands of dollars supporting the Alan T Brown Foundation and, more recently, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

“Alan transformed my thinking,” she says. “Never accept your limits. Always strive for something bigger, something greater.”

On July 25th, Wolpov’s longtime dedication to improving the lives of people with spinal cord injuries will be celebrated at the Reeve Golf Classic at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY.

“Debbie has always been a champion for the Foundation,” says Brown, now director of new partner engagement for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “She and her family have supported so many of our efforts. They are always looking to help the Foundation move forward. It’s a privilege to honor her extraordinary commitment to our work.”

Over the years, Wolpov attended every fundraiser Brown hosted and laced up her sneakers for one race after another. She gritted out the Boston Marathon with a stress fracture and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean for a frigid but memorable Jersey shore triathlon. Her motivation was simple.

“To make life limitless,” she says. “To help Alan and all people that have spinal cord injuries achieve their goals.”

The Golf Classic continues the long tradition of the Alan T Brown Foundation golf tournament, which raised millions of dollars for spinal cord research over three decades. And though she is thrilled to be honored at the upcoming event, for Wolpov, it is beside the point.

“It’s not for me, it’s for the cause,” she says. “And this cause is something I am passionate about. It’s one of the things I am most proud of in my life after my family. People who know me, know this is what I do.”

Visit ChristopherReeve.org/golf to participate in the outing at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY. Or, to donate in honor of Debbie, please visit ChristopherReeve.org/honordebbie.

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.