The Most Inpiring Person of the Year Award
Champion of the disabled
Click to read a nomination from:
Dr. Steven Kirshblum
In 1995 actor Christopher Reeve, best known for his role in Superman movies, lost the use of his entire body in a horseback-riding accident. Almost immediately, Reeve declared his determination to walk again.
When he was first injured, Reeve couldn't even breathe unaided. This year, Reeve stunned the medical community by revealing that, thanks to cutting edge rehabilitative therapies and hours of grueling daily exercise, he can now move his fingers and toes, and distinguish sensations on his skin.
Until Reeve's example, doctors believed that any recovery from an injury as severe as his would only come within the first six months. But Reeve's continuing progress demonstrates in no uncertain terms that substantially delayed recovery from spinal cord injury is possible.
Reeve wants to make sure people know he is fortunate but not special. "The only difference between me and other people is that I've had the equipment to do these exercises. I've been able to afford things that should be available to everyone, and should be paid for by insurance. I hope my progress will change the way insurance companies work."
Reeve is a tireless activist for the disabled, lobbying for legislation to fund research, fund-raising through the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, and speaking to schools and national groups. He has also become one of the most visible advocates for stem-cell research, placing himself in the thick of controversy to further his beliefs. As Reeve turns 50 this year, his goal is to "tell more Americans that they can change their lives if they never give up hope."
Nomination by Dr. Steven Kirshblum
"I get so many calls and e-mails from those who have been inspired by reading or hearing something about him--not just in spinal-injury area, but other areas too. Patients with brain tumors, with other neurologic disorders, have taken his message to heart. His will and determination gives them strength in dealing whatever they've been presented with. He stands for the ability and motivation to succeed regardless of whatever hardship may come your way."
--Dr. Kirshblum, Reeve's doctor, is director of spinal cord injury services at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, West Orange, New Jersey.
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