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The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is a charitable organization headquartered in Short Hills, New Jersey and dedicated to finding treatments and cures for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders. It also works to improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities.
In 2002, Christopher Reeve said, “Nothing of any consequence happens unless people get behind an idea. It begins with an individual and they share the idea with more individuals…and eventually it becomes a movement.”
The Reeve Foundation was started in 1982 as a community response to a crisis that has grown into a national movement. The founders of the organization, originally known as the American Paralysis Foundation, began their work at a time when spinal cord research was considered the graveyard of neurobiology. In 1995, Reeve became a quadriplegic as a result of a horse riding accident. His wife, Dana Reeve, was well known as a model for care giving, and her legacy includes the creation of the Quality of Life program, which not only includes a grant program that has awarded over $16 million to organizations that help people living with paralysis in the here and now, along with a Paralysis Resource Center that has reached tens of thousands of those living with paralysis and their families with useful, often life-saving and life-changing information.
Reeve sought out the help of the APF and lent them his name and funding and eventually turned it into the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and then the Christopher Reeve Foundation.
As of early 2013, the Foundation has awarded more than $110 million (USD) in research grants and more than $16 million in quality-of-life grants.
After Reeve's death in October 2004, his widow, Dana Reeve, assumed the role of chair of the Foundation. Dana Reeve herself died 17 months later, in March 2006, of lung cancer after which Peter D. Kiernan, III became Chair.
On March 11, 2007, the Foundation announced that it changed its name to Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation on the first anniversary of Dana Reeve's death. The change, according to a news release by the Foundation, was to reflect the "partnership, courage and compassion of the Reeves". Peter T. Wilderotter, formerly the Foundation's vice president of Development, was named its president in March 2007.
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"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 Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, together with neuroscientist Susan Harkema, Ph.D. (University of Louisville) members of the NeuroRecovery Network® (NRN) and North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN); key stakeholders and leaders from the spinal cord community; select Reeve Foundation board members; and Reeve Foundation staff members, have developed the Big Idea.
What is The Big Idea? The Big Idea is a clinical research project to test the hypothesis that epidural stimulation can be used to promote significant improvement of cardiovascular, respiratory, bladder, bowel and sexual function in spinal cord injury patients who have been diagnosed as completely paralyzed. We have the opportunity to change the lives of individuals who were told nothing could be done for them. It is believed that The Big Idea study can foster a series of ‘cures’ that will improve the autonomic functions lost with spinal cord injury, including bladder, bowel and sexual function; temperature regulation; and cardiovascular function. These ‘cures’ – plural – are victories over paralysis. For the first time, there will be a treatment to ameliorate some of the health- and life-threatening consequences of spinal cord injury (SCI).
What is epidural spinal cord stimulation?
Epidural stimulation is the application of a continuous electrical current, at varying frequencies and intensities, to specific locations on the lower part of the spinal cord. It involves an implanted microarray over the dura of the lumbar cord. It is believed that epidural stimulation reawakens the nerve networks in the spinal cord. Note: epidural stimulation is not the same as functional electrical stimulation, commonly used to activate paralyzed muscle by direct application of an electrical charge. Epidural stimulation does not activate muscle; it activates nerve networks.
In June 2006, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the Reeve Foundation and its mission by selling Superman Tags. The dogtags feature the Superman S-Shield logo and the foundation's motto, "Go Forward." Because all proceeds from the sale of the tags support the Foundation's work in finding treatments and cures for paralysis, Warner Bros. allowed the Foundation to use the Superman logo royalty-free. The Reeve Foundation hoped to achieve the same level of success and popularity that the Lance Armstrong Foundation has enjoyed with the LIVESTRONG wristband. Celebrities who have been "tagged" include Brandon Routh, who starred as Superman in Superman Returns; Kate Bosworth, who played Lois Lane in Superman Returns; Dean Cain, who played Superman in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman; Erica Durance, who plays Lois Lane on Smallville; David Boreanaz; Robin Williams; and Ray Romano.
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