COVER STORY

THE SU­PER­MAN AC­TOR’S KIDS OPEN UP ABOUT HIS LEGACY OF LOVE AND WHY HE’LL AL­WAYS BE THEIR HERO

Closer Weekly - - Contents -

Marie Os­mond talks about love, weight loss and what she’s learned in an ex­clu­sive new in­ter­view.

When a par­a­lyzed Wis­con­sin man took his first steps in five years in Septem­ber, the chil­dren of Christo­pher Reeve couldn’t con­tain their ex­cite­ment. The med­i­cal break­through ar­rived too late for the Su­per­man ac­tor, who died in 2004, but his work to find a cure for spinal cord in­juries had fi­nally started to pay off. “My dad would be thrilled,” daugh­ter Alexan­dra told Closer at The Christo­pher & Dana Reeve Foun­da­tion’s Mag­i­cal Evening Gala. “He was the em­bod­i­ment of hope. We are see­ing hope be­ing trans­lated into re­sults now. ”

A TRUE CHAM­PION

Blessed with good looks, ath­letic prow­ess and a pas­sion for the­ater, Christo­pher gained world­wide fame play­ing the Man of Steel in 1978’s Su­per­man and its three se­quels. “He al­ways said that it was a real honor to wear the cape and to cap­ture the pub­lic’s imag­i­na­tion, and it’s some­thing that he felt he needed to live up to,” says Alexan­dra, who notes that her fa­ther had been a ded­i­cated ad­vo­cate for the en­vi­ron­ment and a sup­porter of the arts. “I think Su­per­man shaped who he was,” adds Will, his youngest son. “He felt he needed to be a force for good in the world.”

It wasn’t al­ways easy. Af­ter a 1995 horse­back rid­ing ac­ci­dent left Christo­pher on a ven­ti­la­tor and par­a­lyzed from the neck down, he thought about end­ing his life, but his love for his wife, Dana, and his three chil­dren kept him from wal­low­ing in self-pity. De­spite his lim­i­ta­tions, he com­mit­ted him­self to be­ing the best fa­ther and hus­band pos­si­ble. “We couldn’t do tra­di­tional phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties to­gether, but Dad made a re­ally big ef­fort to sit down and have real con­ver­sa­tions with us,” says Will, who was 3 at the time of the ac­ci­dent. “Just hav­ing deep fo­cus, one-on-one con­ver­sa­tions — dad to kid time — was so mean­ing­ful.”

He also found new pur­pose in the foun­da­tion he cre­ated. Since its in­cep­tion, it has awarded more than $138 mil­lion in grants for med­i­cal re­search in the field of paral­y­sis. “To­day we are at the precipice of find­ing a cure,” says Will. “We are mak­ing break­throughs.”

Christo­pher’s fam­ily be­lieves this legacy of hope will con­tinue to aid peo­ple who suf­fer spine in­juries for gen­er­a­tions. “A hero, in the way that my dad de­fined it, was as an or­di­nary in­di­vid­ual who found the courage and strength to per­se­vere in spite of over­whelm­ing ob­sta­cles,” Will proudly says. “He was that — and also a very good dad.” — Louise A. Bar­ile,

with re­port­ing by Lexi Cic­cone

“My dad had the most hope be­cause that’s who he was.”

— Alexan­dra Reeve

Christo­pher and Dana, who died in 2006, wanted to be a source of hope and an in­spi­ra­tion to oth­ers.

Christo­pher’s kids, Matthew, 39, Alexan­dra, 35, and Will, 26, now run his char­ity.

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