Actor, Advocate Christopher Reeve Dies At Age 52
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 11, 2004
MOUNT KISCO, NEW YORK--Christopher Reeve, arguably the most famous person with a disability in America during the last ten years, died Sunday following a heart attack.
Reeve, 52, had developed an infection from a bedsore that spread throughout his body. He had the heart attack at his home on Saturday and fell into a coma. He was taken to a local hospital where he died the next day. Reeve's publicist said he was surrounded by his family when he died.
Reeve was an accomplished stage and screen actor, appearing in nearly 40 films and several TV shows. His most famous role was that of "Superman", whom he portrayed in four films.
Reeve became paralyzed in 1995 when he fell off of a horse during an equestrian competition and injured his spinal cord. Shortly after the accident, he pledged that he would walk someday, and started his public campaign to find a cure for spinal cord injuries.
"I refuse to allow a disability to determine how I live my life," Reeve had said. "I don't mean to be reckless, but setting a goal that seems a bit daunting actually is very helpful toward recovery."
Perhaps most controversial was the way he used his celebrity to promote embryonic stem-cell research around the world.
Many disability rights advocates had been critical of Reeve's focus on getting rid of a disability rather than on the rights of those who have or will acquire a disability. During the times that Reeve made public appearances to show, for example, that he had regained some movement or feeling in a finger or toe, some commented that he had lost touch with those who cannot afford expensive therapies or equipment like he could.
As Vice Chairman of the National Organization on Disability, Reeve did champion the rights of people with disabilities, if on a relatively modest scale.
"People who have disabilities are part of every community, and deserve to feel welcomed in the towns and cities where they live," Reeve said when he announced N.O.D.'s "Accessible America 2004" contest this past July. "Communities that make strong efforts to be accessible and welcoming to those of us with disabilities serve their citizens and visitors, and these communities gain culturally, socially, and economically."
"'Superman' Christopher Reeve dies at 52" (Associated Press)
"Christopher Reeve, rest in peace" (Ragged Edge Magazine)
"Money insulates celebs from disability experience" by Deborah Kendrick (Cincinnati Enquirer -- Dec. 16, 2001)