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The memory of Christopher Reeve continues to endure 15 years after his passing, different people remembering the late actor for different reasons. For some it’s his portrayal of Superman in four feature films. For others, it’s the strength and courage he showed pushing forward following the horseback riding accident that rendered him a quadriplegic. And for his children — Will, Alexandra and Matthew — it’s all the times they spent with their dad. Not surprisingly, they continue to stand at the forefront of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to curing spinal chord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis.
While attending the foundation’s “A Magical Evening Gala” on Thursday, November 14, all three spoke exclusively to Closer Weekly about their father and how they continue to feel his presence in their lives. “I feel it every day,” offers Will, the only child of Christopher and the late Dana Reeve. “Anyone who’s lost someone you love, you’ll get a reminder in ways big and small every day. I get a reminder in the way I live my life, by continuing to be my own person and have those moments when I say to myself, ‘Oh, that’s something my dad would have done.’ Little moments when I watch a Rangers game — my dad and I loved the New York Rangers — I think of him then. Also when the Yankees lost the playoffs — my dad was a huge Yankees fan.”
Alexandra (who, like Matthew, was born to Christopher and his former girlfriend, Gae Exton) adds, “I feel his presence more than ever. The cures that he talked about, the therapies that he wanted for himself seemed so far away when he was injured; we’re now seeing so much progress that these dreams are becoming a reality. And not just a reality in the abstract in the lab, but for real people like some the folks you’ll see tonight, immediate bodily improvement from doing therapies that we funded and pioneered for years. So that makes him feel close to me — we’re continuing that work; we’re continuing his efforts and getting more momentum.”
“We have photos of him in our home,” says Matthew. “What’s been interesting since I’ve become a parent myself is thinking back on our relationship and certain experiences I remember as a child and viewing them through the lens as a parent now. I’m thinking about how to talk to them about him — what movies we would show, what home movies, how to talk about his accident. My daughter knows her grandfather was Superman. We have pictures of him flying an airplane. Anytime she sees a plane, she points to the sky and says ‘Fah-Fah,’ which is very sweet. In Swedish, muh-fah is mother’s father; fah-fah is father’s father. They differentiate there.”
In thinking of her dad, Alexandra points out, “I have two young children. Personally, I view things differently because I’m a parent. When you become a parent, it changes the way your view your own parents. I look back and see ways of continuing his legacy — not just continuing the foundation, but the values he stood for and embraced, how he tried to define our family, continuing to be part of this community and carrying on the fight and thinking about the broader community that is impacted by these issues.”
For updates on what Alexandra, Will and Matthew have been up to, and more of their thoughts on their father, please scroll down.
Reporting by Laurie Heifetz.
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation)
Matthew Reeve, 39.
Born December 20, 1979, in London, England, Matthew works as a writer, having written the storyline for the TV series Agent Hamilton and the screenplay for the currently-in-development The Land That Never Was . As he explains it, he was a no-show to last year’s gala, but for a very good reason: “My longtime girlfriend — I call her my wife, but we’re not married — was nine months pregnant, so we didn’t travel. We stayed home. But I was here the year before that and the year before that. I have a daughter who’s three and three months and a son who’s 10 months.”
As to what he thinks Christopher would think about his career, Matthew admits, “I don’t like to put words in his mouth. I work in film and television, which is a career I’ve always wanted to pursue, since I was a young boy, which is most likely owed to a lot of time spent on sets while he was working after the accident. He couldn’t do physical things like go for a bike ride, ski and play sports. We would watch and discuss movies and TV — common ground. I think he’d be highly supportive and interested and curious and want to read what I’m working on and probably give notes. I think he would be thrilled that we’re all involved — my siblings and I — and that the foundation continues to grow. He was frustrated [by] the pace and speed. We’ve now entered a new era — a new, technology-based solution through epidermal stimulation.”
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
Alexandra Reeve Givens.
She was born Alexandra Exton Reeve in December 1983 and, rather than talk about herself, her preference is to provide an update on the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “The foundation has been having a major year, in terms of driving forward in the research for people with spinal-cord injury,” Alexandra explains. “We’re leading trials at the University of Louisville where people are seeing amazing progress in terms of getting better control over their bodies, better financial recovery. And the Reeve Foundation is doubling down on that, so we have been really driving forward with our fundraising strategies, announcing new ways of doing that, so not just grant making but venture philanthropy as well — realizing that we’re at such an inflection point in seeing progress and cures that we really need to double down and drive forward on that.”