Christopher Reeve had a perfect life – a successful acting career, a beautiful wife, and endless opportunities. However, after falling from a horse, he had to rebuild a life while being paralyzed from the neck down.
“Success is finding satisfaction in giving a little more than you take. You’ve got to give more than you take.”
Acting on determination
Growing up, Reeve excelled at school. He was smart, athletic, and determined to be an actor. He moved to New York City and found an agent. Within 2 years, Reeve appeared on Broadway with Katherine Hepburn.
Reeve only had one small Hollywood part, when he was put forward for the role of Superman 1952 TV series. He had the height but was skinny. Reeve’s version of a modern, gentler version of Clark Kent immediately won the producers over.
A tragic accident
Reeve became famous for his portrayal of the superhero. He turned down leading roles in Pretty Woman, Lethal Weapon, and Fatal Attraction because the storylines were weak. He insisted he would only accept the best scripts.
He finally accepted a role that involved horse riding. He was allergic to horses, but took antihistamines, began to enjoy riding, and entered jumping events. During one of the ride, Reeve fell off his horse. As a result of the fall, his neck was shattered, and his spinal cord severed from his brain.
Surgeons managed to repair his spinal column, but doctors said he would be forever paralyzed. Reeve refused to accept the outcome. He worked on rebuilding his muscle connections for 5 years. Finally, he regained a tiny amount of feeling in his legs.
Refusing to accept his disability, Reeve became the face of hope for people suffering from spinal injuries. He gave talks on how to accept and move on with dignity. He established the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. Moreover, he created a foundation that lobbied the government to fund spinal research. He became a spokesman for everyone facing disabilities. Reeve continued to act in his wheelchair and eventually became a director while being stuck to his bed.
A legacy after death
Reeve died in 2004 at age 52. His wife, who stood with him through everything, was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and died the following year. His children renamed the foundation “the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation” and continue to support everyone through the world living with paralysis to this day.
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles,” Christopher Reeve once said. What struggles are you going through this week that you think it is impossible to overcome? Don’t stop trying until you prevail over it and come out as the winner on the other side.
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”