Last night, the Christopher Reeve Foundation honored the lives and strength of Christopher and Dana Reeve at their annual "A Magical Evening" Gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City, by raising over $2.5 million. The event which was co-hosted by Harvey Fierstein & Bebe Neuwirth, featured a video tribute to the legendary couple, which was introduced by Barbara Walters, as well as a Broadway tribute by some of today's brightest Broadway stars including Donny Osmond; Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichert, Michael Longoria and Steve Gouveia from The Jersey Boys; The Times They Are A-Changin's Lisa Brescia and Josh Strickland and Jenn Gambatese from Tarzan.
Additional special guests and supporters of the Christopher Reeve Foundation in attendance included Joan Collins, Nathan Lane, Meryl Streep, Callie Thorne, Olivia Wilde, Governor Tom Kean, Denise Rich and Miss USA Tara Connor.
This year, the Christopher Reeve Foundation presented the first-ever Dana Reeve HOPE Award to a person who has shown amazing grace, strength and fortitude and who has been a source of support and guidance to the Christopher Reeve Foundation. Will, Alexandra and Matthew Reeve presented the Dana Reeve HOPE Award to Cristina Carlino, the Founder and CEO of philosophy, inc.
"Dana Reeve, a woman whose grace and courage under the most difficult of life's circumstances, was a source of inspiration to all of us. Dana was committed to preserving the important work that Christopher pioneered," Alexandra Reeve said last night. "Her life has become a legacy of hope, enabling each of us to look within and gain the strength and courage to be better."
Each year, the Christopher Reeve Foundation presents The Visionary Leadership Award to those individuals who demonstrate outstanding professional and philanthropic leadership. This year's Award was presented to Bruce C. Ratner, President & CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, and to The Honorable Thomas H. Kean, Chairman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their extraordinary generosity of time, talent and resources.
"This has been a pivotal year for us at the Foundation. A year full of loss, and hope and challenges and achievements. Two years ago Dana Reeve stood at this podium, five weeks after her beloved husband had passed away and she spoke about how the work of the Foundation must continue even though Chris was no longer here. Our work was too important not only to Chris and Dana, but to the millions of people living with paralysis. She then smiled that beautiful smile of hers and she challenged us to do even more," said Christopher Reeve Foundation President and CEO Kathy Lewis last night.
"In the days and weeks after Dana's death it was hard to imagine that anyone could possibly stand here. But we all know that it is not a disability or diagnosis that defines a man or woman, but how you choose to live your life. With Chris and Dana it was never 'why me', but I'm 'still me'. And although their lives were way too short, these two magnificent human beings left us with a legacy of hope."
The hope and the work of the Christopher Reeve Foundation was demonstrated last night when 3-year-old Chase Ford took the stage. As Chase's mother Renee Ford explained, Chase was paralyzed from the neck down in an accident just 18-months ago. Through the Foundation's funding of their NeuroRecovery Network Chase walked across the stage and waved to the audience.
The Christopher Reeve Foundation is committed to finding treatments and cures for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders, and improving the quality of life for people living with disabilities.
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