The essence of “A Magical Evening” was indeed captured, at the Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation Benefit Dinner for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and Paralysis. Undeniably, this was a night not to be forgotten and an experience to be shared with anyone listening. This benevolent event was held at the prestigious Marriot Hotel in New York City.
One Degree of Separation:
Paralysis and Spinal Cord Injury research in the United States; found that 5.6 million people in this country live with paralysis-nearly 1.3 million of them as the result of a spinal cord injury. -CDF
In 1995 Christopher Reeves, better known as the actor who played Superman from 1978 to 1987, suffered a near-fatal horse riding accident. Reeves, was hurled off his horse, shattering his first and second vertebrae. This caused him paralysis from the neck down and difficulty breathing for a considerable amount of time on his own. After diligently working through his rehabilitation, Reeves became an orator and an advocate for Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis. He joined forces with the American Paralysis Association (APA), to establish the Christopher Reeves Foundation in 1999; Dana’s name was added soon after her untimely death from Lung Cancer in 2006. Previously, in 2004 Christopher Reeves passed away from a sudden heart attack. When both were alive, they actively participated in communities and programs that positively affected the lives of the injured and their families. Persistence, awareness and hope is what ignited they’re spark to speak on behalf of individuals, that may have not been heard otherwise. To reach a broader spectrum, the foundation collaborated with “ Life Rolls On” another organization founded by Jesse Billaure. Presently, the foundation is one of the most prominent and renowned Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) research organizations worldwide.
During the benefit dinner, it was apparent that Christopher and Dana were truly missed. Anyone presenting on stage would conjure up found memories of the two; especially the Reeves children Matthew, Alexandra and Will, who heavily participated throughout the night. All three stated, “It is through them the work and mission of Christopher and Dana Reeves will continue to grow and strengthen”. The dinner was as decedent and tasteful as the guest attending. Understanding the foundation and participators, understood this benefit dinner as celebratory and full of life. Platinum Recording artist Colbie Caillat selected three riveting songs to perform for the night; two of which are well-known hits; Realize and Bubbly. Singer/Actress Ali Stroker, who is wheelchair bound due to a Spinal Cord injury herself, performed an inspiring number that shook me to the core. With her strength in song, Stroker made it clear that she was not a victim and her life is as full and meaningful, as anyone without a disability. To close the evening, American Chopper Reality Star Paul Teutul, Sr unveiled a marvelous wheelchair accessible motorcycle, which was all –automatic and hand controlled for ultimate self-sufficiency. He truly demonstrated the art of giving by donating the bike to the Foundation.
A-listers arrived at the Red Carpet draped in their finest attire to honor the Reeves family and the foundation they firmly stand behind. Inspiration won the theme of the evening; this was evident in the passion some attending celebrities had while discussing the foundation and what it means to them. In a brief interview with Academy Award winning and good friend to the Reeve family Meryl Streep stated; “Start by Starting”…. When you help others, give your time, and understand that no amount of time is too little and you will truly see your reward in heaven”, when asked what advice she had for young people looking to join such a cause. Streep was beaming the entire night and was joyful to be apart of such a memorable foundation. The Food Networks Sandra Lee was also exuberant and advocated this wonderful cause whenever she could that night. “When looking to join a charity, research how much of the donations and funds are going directly to the cause and not to administrators , research the background, see if this is a cause that really interest you and you can take a real stand on!….Sandra Lee explained.
Academy Award winning Actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman mentioned, he knew a friend 20 yrs ago with Spinal Cord Injury, who wasn’t given much of a chance for recovery and was given no hope. Hoffman now says medicine and research has come a long way from then and the Reeves Foundation plays a major role in that accomplishment. Other stars that attended and supported the evening were Academy Award winning Susan Sarandon, 30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski, ER’s Anthony Edwards, Richard Kind, Caroline Rhea and many more.
The word accomplishment for the Reeves Foundation seems somewhat of an understatement when hearing and seeing all the lives they’ve reached out and touched over the years. This foundation has not and never will be about who you are and how much you have. Life is undoubtedly the gift that keeps on giving; this is manifested in the legacy that lives on through Christopher and Dana Reeves.
Please visit http://www.christopherreeve.org for more information.
*Images by our professional photographer Leticia Valdez