To get even the slightest sense of Dave Dempsey, just meet his adult children: Chris and Alison and her husband, Mike. Determined, warm, giving, thoughtful—all the best of that down-to-earth, sports-team loving, heartily laughing, hardworking Ohioan/Midwestern ethic. The news that Dave passed away this week hit so hard for all who know and love the Dempseys—and there are many— and yet, of course, there they were, his family, even in their time of crushing grief, attending to details with so much grace to ensure that services pay meaningful tribute to Dave’s triumphant spirit and vibrant life.
When Chris ran the Chicago marathon for Team Reeve in Dave’s honor in 2010, he wrote: My father suffered a hemorrhage in his spinal cord on December 23, 1999 which left him paralyzed from the chest down. While his injury was debilitating and devastating to him and my entire family, it has served as an inspiration for me every day for the past ten years. Despite his disability and consistent health problems caused by it, my father has been able to exercise in a swimming pool on a regular basis. His indomitable spirit has motivated me through my training in the Army and through my first half marathon last August. I’d appreciate the opportunity to represent the Reeve Foundation to raise awareness about the effects of spinal cord injuries and the work that is being done to improve the lives of paraplegics, quadriplegics and their families.
A year later, Chris’ brother-in-law, Mike Buckley, joined in the Team Reeve tradition; in a Reeve article at the time, he was quoted with these inspirational words about what it meant for him to run the Chicago Marathon on behalf of Dave: "Everyone's incredibly supportive of each other," Buckley explains about his in-laws. "They're all there to help one another." Aside from gaining an additional family, Buckley has also gained knowledge about spinal cord injuries. "I didn't have much experience and I didn't really know anybody too close," he explains. "It's opened my eyes to just see how every day is lived by someone who is spinal cord injured and how difficult the little things are." Buckley says that Dave Dempsey's strength, physically and mentally, making it through every day has encouraged him to keep going, even through the hard times that happen in life. "When you run into adversity, you just have to push through it." Buckley says he's learning. "Don't let anything stop you, just make the most of what you have."
And then there is Alison, Mike’s wife, Chris’ sister, and most especially, Dave’s daughter. Seeing her deep devotion to her dear Dad is a beautiful sight to behold, and Alison’s poise gives even greater strength to all around her. Successful in her real estate investment banking career and her own athletic endeavors, Alison is equally if not more admirable for her volunteer leadership on behalf of Team Reeve Chicago. From fundraising for the marathon participation of the men in her life among others, to securing sponsorships and selling tickets for the annual Reeve Chicago event to becoming, along with Mike, trained as a volunteer Reeve peer mentor, Alison champions our cause in every possible way.
As we share in the sympathies of the Dempsey and Buckley families and express our sincere condolences for their loss, the Reeve Foundation is deeply grateful to accept gifts in memory of Dave Dempsey. Donations, which can be made at www.ChristopherReeve.org/tribute
, further the Reeve Foundation’s mission to cure spinal cord injury and to provide care for community members living with paralysis.