It’s a jarring sight as you walk past the tourist destinations and high-end stores around Rockefeller Center: Christopher Reeve’s empty mechanized wheelchair sitting in an empty shop window.
Superman would have turned 61 tomorrow if he hadn’t suffered a severe neck injury from a horse-riding accident in 1995 that left him paralyzed. Reeve died in 2004.
As part of Spinal Cord Awareness Month (since the beginning of September), Reeve’s wheelchair has sat as a stark reminder of what he endured after his ill-fated accident, but more importantly as a symbol of hope. His Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has funded research that has advanced the treatment of spinal cord injuries, of which almost 1.3 million Americans are affected.
The window display aims to call attention to the advances made in spinal-cord injury research and treatment, which has helped many people regain some semblance of normal function—far more than was available to Reeve when he was injured. The space, at 10 Rockefeller Plaza, was donated by healthcare firm EHE International, while BBDO New York stepped in to design the display as a donation to the effort.
“We share Christopher Reeve’s dream of empty wheelchairs and will do everything within our power to make this dream a reality,” said John Osborn, president and CEO of BBDO New York, which serves as the volunteer creative agency partner for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
“We’re proud to support the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in their efforts to find cures and treatments for spinal cord injury and ways to improve the quality of life for people living with paralysis," added Osborn. "Christopher’s birthday would have been this week, Sept. 25. I can’t think of a better present we could all give than to help Christopher realize his dream of empty wheelchairs.”