By Dawn M. Chiossi
“Today’s Care, Tomorrow’s cure:” This is the inspiring mission of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
On July 1, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in Short Hills received a three year, 6.5 million dollar federal grant to help people who are living with spinal cord injuries and other conditions that cause paralysis. Some of these conditions include spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, (ALS), stroke, spina bifida and cerebral palsy. This money will aid these people in
the many battles and challenges they face on a daily basis, enhancing their lives.
The foundation is the recipient of the National Paralysis Resource Center cooperative agreement from the Administration for Community Living. The Reeve Foundation has operated the Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) for approximately 16 years.
Quality of life: Everyone strives to obtain it, the enjoyment and independence that make life worth living. So many people take it for granted. But having quality of life is often difficult, if not nearly impossible, when people have physical disabilities impeding their way.
But those from the Short Hills based Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation seek to change that. Their belief is simple: That every human being should be able to obtain and lead full and rich lives, regardless of their physical condition. They have an unwavering conviction that every human being deserves a life filled with
Both Christopher and Dana Reeve were staunch advocates and champions for the disabled. After his horse riding accident that left him paralyzed in 1995, actor Christopher Reeve put a human and familiar face on those who are enduring spinal cord injuries and paralysis. No more could people pretend that it was just an
anonymous person who was suffering with a disability: Reeve was famous, and had been considered synonymous with Superman! But he was more than just a celebrity or a figurehead. He and his wife Dana were activists, driven to create positive changes. Utterly passionate regarding helping these fellow courageous folks living with physical challenges, Reeve simply considered them heroes. He
staunchly sought to give them hope, because he knew how easily they could feel hopeless.
A staggering 1 in 50 people in the United States, approximately 5.4 million Americans live with paralysis of some kind. And those aren’t just numbers or statistics; they are people close to us. “We all know someone a brother, sister, friend, neighbor or colleague who is suffering with paralysis. They aren’t strangers. They are one degree of separation from all of us,” officials assert.
The Reeves’ Foundation is dedicated to performing innovative research, securing grants, providing information and much needed advocacy to aid their clients.
During the past 16 years and moving forward, The Reeve Foundation and National Paralysis Resource Center continue to compete in a rigorous bidding process for every three years’ worth of funding, but the results for their clients are golden.
Since it opened in 2002, 100,000 people have been aided by this organization with approximately 20,000 people helped in the past three years alone.
According to Anna Chamberlain, supervisor of Marketing and Communications for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation since 2015, the Reeve Foundation has a dual mission.
“We focus on creating resources and programs to help the 5.4 million Americans and their families impacted by paralysis though our Paralysis Resource Center while also funding innovative and cutting edge research to find cures for spinal cord injuries in the near future,” she explains.
Offering a multitude of free services such as their peer program which offers a way of connecting individuals and caregivers with respective peer mentors to offer much needed emotional support, their military veterans program, information specialists, quality of life grants, program advocacy, and policy programs, these resources are designed to aid the whole individual. They empower both the body and spirit, to help to navigate the insecure journey ahead.
“The programs help individuals return to actively participating in their communities, achieving independence and self-sufficiency, achieving things we take for granted like learning how to drive again, going back to work and even leaving their own homes are also ways in which the PRC helps individuals every day.” Chamberlain enthuses.
This recent grant will do so much for so many, making positive and uplifting differences in their lives.
“We are thrilled that we can continue to expand our programs to help even more individuals and families create a pathway to navigate their way towards an independent and thriving future,” Chamberlain says. “In many ways the PRC provides hope that many have lost, especially after those few days and weeks after a traumatic injury or event. I am personally thrilled we were evaluated on our demonstrated impact, value and positive outcomes. The PRC has helped so many families; it acts as a lifeline when their lives have changed in an instant. The grant will keep that lifeline open for those who need it the most.”
Chamberlain sums up the mission of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation perfectly: “We not only are giving helpful tools (to clients), we are giving hope.”
To contact the Reeve Foundation, call 800-225-0292.
By Dawn M. Chiossi