We believe in empowering those affected by paralysis with the best knowledge, resources, support, and community.
My dad taught in elementary school for over thirty years in the town we lived, so invariably when we went out together to the diner, the mall, or the post office while I was growing up, there was always someone calling out “Hey Dr. B!” followed by a chat to catch up with a former student or their family. To me, it felt like he was mayor and I grew up having a profound understanding of all the people’s lives he affected.
I was reminded of this feeling last night. I attended the life remembrance service for our friend Christina Symanski. I wasn’t struck by just the sheer number of folks that came to pay their respect to her family, but by how everyone talked about Christina. Almost everyone I spoke to described her as having been their teacher- and not just her former students (Christina was an elementary school art teacher just prior to her spinal cord injury in 2005), but her sister, her friends from college, her gaming buddies, even friends she had never met in person before but had advised and counseled online.
Christina was tremendously talented and passionate as an artist and a writer, but the thing that I think everyone will miss the most about her was her innate ability to bring understanding to others about what she loved- whether it was as an artist, an art teacher, or following her injury as an advocate for those living with paralysis. She deeply wanted everyone to grasp what it was she lived with everyday as a quadriplegic, how it affected her and those around her both physically and mentally. She was brutally honest and brilliantly witty. I always left speaking with her or reading her blog, thinking….tossing her thoughts around with my own perspective on life and living and coming out feeling like I’d just exercised the muscle we all too often tend to forget, our mind. This is the beauty of a great teacher, they make you think and you love them for it.
Thank you, Christina, for being a voice in the world of living with paralysis. You will be very deeply missed.
Manager, Team Reeve
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation