Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Today’s Care. Tomorrow’s Cure.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation started as a grassroots movement by pioneers who refused to accept the long-standing dogma that a spinal cord, once injured, could never recover or be repaired.

In 1982, New Jersey teenager Henry Stifel was involved in a car accident that left him with quadriplegia at the age of 17. Led by Henry’s father, the family mobilized friends, neighbors, scientists, bankers, and local political leaders to form a foundation to raise money for spinal cord research.

At that point in time, spinal cord research was at its infancy and nicknamed the “graveyard of neurobiology.” But what started as a community response to a crisis quickly grew into a national movement.

Just a few years later, in an effort to maximize resources and avoid duplication, the Stifel Paralysis Research Foundation and the American Paralysis Association (APA) joined forces in the mid-1980s under the APA banner. Through its support of cutting-edge basic science, the APA changed the field of paralysis research, transforming it from an obscure specialty practiced by a few scientists in isolated labs, to one of the most exciting and collaborative areas of neuroscience.

In 1995, when Christopher Reeve was injured, the APA was one of the first places that he and Dana turned to. By 1999, the APA and Christopher’s foundation came together as the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which added Dana’s name to its moniker after her untimely death in March 2006.

Christopher and Dana were never celebrity figureheads. They were hands-on, activist leaders, who rallied a swelling chorus of voices advocating for people living with paralysis. They recognized that the true heroes in the spinal cord injured community are those living with paralysis and their families.