Oct. 13, 2004 — Superman movie actor Christopher Reeve, 52, died Oct. 10 of heart failure. An avid horseman, Reeve suffered a spinal cord injury while riding cross-country on May 27, 1995, in Culpeper, Va. The injury left him paralyzed and unable to walk or ride again.
Reeve died after going into cardiac arrest at his home. Reeve was being treated for a pressure wound that had become severely infected, resulting in a serious systemic infection.
“I remember that day [at the competition] everyone was saying, ‘Superman is here,'” said Coleen Keenan-Hersson, vice president of eventing for the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association, in a Washington Post article. “He certainly turned out to be a Superman, didn’t he?”
After strenuous exercise, Reeve regained limited motion and was able to breathe for short periods of time without his ventilator. His support of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation (CRPF) highlighted his hope for future treatments and cures for paralysis caused by central nervous system disorders.
Last year the non-profit Washington International Horse Show donated $150,000 to the CRPF. The co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, Sheila Johnson, served as the show’s president and got to meet Reeve.
“He knew what the purpose of his life was going to be,” she said in the Washington Post article. “It was to emphasize the importance of stem cell research and the hope for a cure.”
EquiSearch Readers Share Thoughts About Reeve’s Life
“I think that maybe Royal Kaliber knew Superman needed a fantastic mount to ride in heaven. May they revel together in each other’s companionship.”
“Christopher Reeve will be missed worldwide. He was truly a remarkable man. He had true dignity, compassion and courage (to name a few). I cried when I heard the news, as I’m sure millions of others did as well. I know he had a ‘reserved seat’ in heaven. I commend Mrs. Reeve on her example to all of us on the value of marraige vows. She also has true grace and courage. I respect her immensely. God bless Mrs. Reeve and the children. May the outpouring of love for Mr. Reeve comfort her in her darkest time. They are in my prayers, and he will always live in my heart as a true American Hero.”
“I met Christopher Reeve in a little town of Stowe, Vt., approximately 20+ years ago. He was standing in front of me at McDonald’s. I said to him, ‘Are you who I think you are?’ He gave me this very sincere sweet smile and said ‘yes.’ I drove 100 miles an hour back to my job and told everyone I had just met Superman. Of course, no one believed. I will never forget that day. He was powerful just for the two minutes we spoke. I will miss him, and I was only touched by him for such a brief moment. I extend my
deepest sympathy to his family for such a loss. He was a true hero.”
“He will be missed. I hope he finds my equine friend of 26 years that I just put down on Oct. 15, and I hope they have a great ride into the sunset.”
–Cindy Kaufman, Slippery Rock, PA
“Some people talk about ‘courage’ and what it is. We can even cite some pretty good examples of it, and some not so good examples of it. Christopher Reeve LIVED it! Our everyday annoyances are pretty puny in comparison to what he and his loved ones had to deal with on a daily basis. Reeve never talked about his own courage–he lived it everyday. Without complaint, without excuses. His wife, Dana, and his family are the living legacy this man’s courage leaves behind. I hope and pray that he is not forgotten for his works, his life and his inspiration. I know he is ‘well-mounted’ where he has gone, because some great equines have gone before him. And if things aren’t right or just where he is gone to, I’m sure he’ll be working to make them right. Godspeed, Chris!”
–Karen J. Prell, Daytona Beach, FL
“America has just lost one of its true heroes…he was a different kind of hero to many, many Americans. He gave such great inspiration to many handicapped and disabled people. I for one know I could never have been as courageous as he was in dealing with his own handicap, let alone trying to help thousands of others in similar situations. He showed great courage, and I am sure went through great pain in trying to regain the use of his body. He showed extreme strength of character, intelligence, perseverance, a willingness to accept a very great challenge and to pass that experience on to others so that they might also be helped as well. If that wasn’t enough, he was also a very gentle and loving man. May he find peace, joy and freedom in his new life beyond the Vail and may he always ride the wind on the back of a horse of his choice. He was such an inspiration to us all! To his wife, Dana, I highly commend her on her ability to stick with Christopher through thick and thin. So very few could have lived through such a trial and shown so much love, courage and commitment. You two made a wonderful team! To Dana I wish the best of life yet to come.”
–Joyce Bartlett, Skowhegan, ME
“I will always remember that Christopher Reeve never blamed his horse for his accident, was a tireless champion for the disabled and was a loving husband and father. I remember the first time I saw him in Superman, thinking, ‘Wow, what a hunk!’ In Chris Reeve beauty wasn’t skin-deep, it permeated his being. I believe I read that he said, ‘In my dreams I am always whole.’ Well, he’s whole now. Bless you, Chris Reeve.”
“I am certain Christopher Reeve is now surrounded with the love and perfection he exhibited here on earth. I believe he now soars on a beautiful winged horse and his body is as free as an angel’s. He leaves behind a world of fellow equestrians and people in awe of his strength, resolve and caring for others. His spirit soars.”
–Julie A. Woods
“Mrs. Reeves is a superwoman to have stayed by his side in sickness and in health. I looked forward to the day I would see Christopher Reeve walk again, as he did as well. We’ll never get the opportunity to give stem cell research the chance to destroy his contact with Kryptonite. He is missed. Didn’t realize Royal Kaliber had passed away until reading EquiSearch comments. The good die young. Happy heavenly trails, Chris.”
–DB, Shrewsbury Area, PA
“As a person who raises, rides and shows horses, and also has two nephews who are quadriplegics, I have followed Chistopher Reeve’s life whenever possible. I know something of the personal and daily problems people like him face face. They all have so much courage. I especially
think the world owes Christopher a deep debt of gratitude. I believe
because of him, there will be a cure one day. I believe God put him here to do this, and he is truly Superman. I hope he gets to pet my beautiful black mare I lost foaling 3 years ago (the dam of world champion Silhouette Sonny). I am sure he couldn’t have done it without his lovely wife and their children. God bless his memory.”
–Clare Young, Bagley, MN
“I think it is a travesty that Christopher Reeve died from an infection caused by bed sores. With the crew of caregivers by his side, it is unimaginable that someone would not have noticed a pressure point on
“As a fellow equestrian facing a serious, life-threatening illness, I looked to Christopher Reeve for inspiration. While I am deeply saddened at his sudden and certainly unexpected passing, I am grateful for what he has left for all of us–an unsurpassed example of hope, strength and grace in the face of enormous challenges. Ride on, Chris, and I will live strong in your memory.”
–Susan Lafferty, South Pasadena, CA
Donations can be made in Reeve’s honor to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Cards may be sent to the family in care of the Foundation at 500 Morris Avenue, Springfield, N.J., 07081.