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Christopher Reeve and the Reeve-Irvine Research Center August 7, 2012

Posted by ucisca in Campus Scenes.
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In January 1996, philanthropist Joan Irvine Smith proposed to actor Christopher Reeve, best known for his film role as Superman, that they collaborate with UCI to launch a fund-raising effort toward the establishment of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, one of the few  spinal cord research centers in the nation. Smith offered to start the effort with a $1 million donation from her foundation. Mr. Reeve, who in 1995 had suffered an equestrian accident that left him paralyzed, agreed to help. On July 20, 1996, the Christopher Reeve Celebrity Polo Classic was held at the Oaks Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, and benefited the research center. Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana joined Joan Irvine Smith, UCI Chancellor Laurel Wilkening and about 500 other people on September 13, 1996 in dedicating the a new building where the Reeve-Irvine Research Center is housed. On September 14, 1996, at a benefit dinner at Mission San Juan Capistrano, actors/celebrities Robin Williams, Joan Rivers and Jane Seymour were among 560 guests at another fundraiser that was part of a week-long equestrian event, the Oaks International.  Williams directed the auction at the event.

All of these, and other fundraising efforts helped to establish the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, which is now one of the nation’s leading facilities for spinal cord research. Christopher and Dana Reeve remained committed to helping for the rest of their lives. Christopher Reeve died on October 10, 2004 from complications from his 1995 spinal cord injury. Dana Reeve died on March 6, 2006 from lung cancer.

Christopher and Dana Reeve  [As-061. Box 144]

Joan Irvine Smith and Chancellor Laurel Wilkening (right)  [AS-061. Box 144]

Signed poster for the Christopher Reeve Celebrity Polo Classic on July 20, 1996

Christopher and Dana Reeve on a tour of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center  [AS-061. Box 144]

Robin Williams at a benefit dinner for the Reeve-Irvine Research Center  [AS-061. Box 144]

AS-061. University Communication Photographs. Special Collections and Archives, the U.C. Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Box 144.

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