MAKING AVAILABLE FUNDS FOR THE LOW-INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, 2006--Continued
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
TRIBUTE TO DANA REEVE
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today, we learned of the unbelievably tragic passing of a remarkably courageous, strong, and dedicated woman, Dana Reeve. Most Americans knew Dana as the wife of Christopher Reeve, and most Americans new Christopher as Superman and, as this unbelievable figure, capable of overcoming so many obstacles.
I think the whole Nation was shocked and touched when they learned that Dana, not too long after the loss of Chris, herself was battling lung cancer. She was always ebullient and strong in that effort. At times, she was filled with doubt about her kids and the future, as anyone would be, but always unbelievably courageous. She was a passionate advocate after Chris passed away, and even before. She was, herself, an accomplished actress and singer, appearing off Broadway and on Broadway. She was, above all, a loving mother and a stunningly supportive and nurturing wife.
Through her very selfless effort to be part of Chris's life in gigantic ways, bigger than most people could describe, after his accident, she became an inspiration to millions of Americans. This is no way for anybody who was touched by that family to adequately express our shock and our sorrow to her immediate family--to Will, age 13, and her stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra, and to her friends, who were with her until the end.
Dana was always a crusader, but with Chris's accident, she became an even more tireless, passionate crusader for the particular promise of medical research into stem cell treatments. After Chris's paralysis, she and Chris together created the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which has raised and distributed over $55 million in research grants, much of it aimed at speeding the development of stem cell treatments.
I can remember visiting Chris at his home in New York. He had this elaborate exercise setup, which he went through, I think, almost every day, or whenever possible, always keeping his muscles as alive and growing as possible under the circumstances, with the belief that he was going to walk again. Dana believed in him and she believed in that possibility. Together with Chris she was deeply involved in the fight for increases in medical research funding, and she was an active advocate for the rights of the disabled.
Many of my colleagues in the Senate had the opportunity to get to know her or talk with both she and Chris in the course of that advocacy. After Chris's death in 2004, Dana courageously kept up the battle to advance medical research. She became the chairwoman of the foundation, picking up where Chris had left off. She was responsible for developing the foundation's Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center and for a program that has now distributed more than $8 million for projects that improved the daily lives of people with paralysis.
In October of 2004, I was particularly honored and moved to be joined by Dana on the campaign trail in Ohio. I cannot tell you how incredible it was that within 2 weeks of Chris passing away--less than 2 weeks--Dana took the time, found the strength and courage and the sense of purpose somewhere, which she described to me as coming directly from Chris himself, to come out on the trail and fight for what he had been fighting.
I will never forget the grace and the strength that she showed that day, and even a glow that she exuded in her love for Chris and her passion about the issue.
Let me share, if I may, a few of the words that she spoke that day which I found so moving, but I also find important for all of us to focus on today. She said:
Chris struggled for 9 1/2 years, but it was essential to him that every day bring some kind of forward progress, either personally or globally. Despite the enormous challenges he faced each morning, he awoke with focused determination and a remarkable zest for life. Chris was able to keep going because he had the support of his loved ones, a dedicated nursing staff, the belief of his fans, and members of the disabled community, and because he had hope--hope that one day science would restore some of his function. Chris actively participated in clinical trials. He was on a strict exercise regimen and was recently in a clinical trial right here in Ohio to breathe on his own. Chris could breathe off his ventilator for hours at a time, thanks to science, and scientists taking bold steps.
Chris understood that all journeys begin with a single step, and to take that first step one needs hope. His vision of walking again, his belief that he would reach this goal for himself and others in his lifetime was essential to the way that he conducted his life.
Dana went on to describe that while Chris led the crusade for research, she in turn put her energy into improving the quality of life for people who were living with diseases, inspired by individuals who could still benefit from research. She talked about how right there in Ohio, where we stood that day, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation had funded a number of items that kept people healthy and active despite the challenge of living with a disability. She did all of this because both she and Chris imagined living in a world where politics would never get in the way of hope.
Dana shared that vision and she worked tirelessly to help achieve it. Today, the whole country will again remember this couple. They will remember them together and their dedication to furthering stem cell research. Here in the Senate, we have an opportunity to honor their memories and that work by fighting to advance stem cell research. We can do it. Mindful of all the ethical considerations that we understand, there is a way to do it and to respect life. We have the opportunity to take the steps that Dana and Chris would have been so thrilled to see, worked so hard to achieve, to finally see a stem cell bill passed through the Senate.
In the end, none of their efforts, nor their lives were about policy. It was about hope and it was about values. It is about honoring their lives now that we should set about that task. They shared an unquenchable belief in the genius of America when we put our minds to it. They drew strength from the talent and dedication of the scientists they met and, in turn, they inspired them to go out and do even more. Chris stunned doctors by regaining some sensation in over 70 percent of his body and moving most of his joints, which people said he would never do. He did that because of science.
Dana and Chris never lost faith that America and American science was the greatest hope for humanity. That is a faith that all of us should share for Chris and Dana and the millions of people who believe in the possibilities of this remarkable time and our remarkable country. A lot of people ask, How can we do that? The answer is simple. How can we commit ourselves to anything less?
So to Will, Matthew, Alexandra, and Dana and Chris's friends and families, colleagues and supporters, I say the best thing we can do to complete their journey is by doing our best in ours. If we do that, we will give even greater meaning to two remarkable lives.
I yield the floor.