Non-Smoker Dana Reeve Dies Of Lung Cancer
I was saddened to hear that Dana Reeve, widow of late actor Christopher Reeve, has died of lung cancer at age 44.
First known as a singer/actress, she became a symbol of compassion and dedication while caring for her husband during his near decade of paralysis. A lifelong nonsmoker, she announced her diagnosis in August 2005.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer for both men and women. Dana Reeve has brought much needed attention to the fact that approximately 13% of its victims are non-smokers. In 2004 more than 170,000 new cases of lung cancer and over 160,000 deaths were attributed to the disease in the United States. Smoking is the leading cause, responsible for 87% of lung cancer cases, but there are a number of other factors that contribute including secondhand smoke, radon, air pollution and family history. More studies are needed to determine the cause of a 600% increase of lung cancer diagnosis in women since 1955. --Annie Van Bebber
To learn about the dangers of radon or to purchase a radon detection kit see the American Cancer Association
For suggestions or information on smoking cessation or the risks of lung cancer, contact the American Lung Association at (312) 243-2000.
The People Behind The Cause
Christopher and Dana Reeve
The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation
Executive directors, administrative staff and dedicated volunteers tirelessly work for their clients without expecting anything in return. Those they provide support, encouragement and services to, may in fact, be thrilled to have opportunities to give back to organizations that have greatly improved their lives.
Through television, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews and photo sessions, these individuals bring visibility and a great deal of humanity to sometimes abstract medical, societal and spiritual issues. Such exposure can increase funding for nonprofits, remove psychological stigmas and provide clients with a sense of giving back and helping others.
Sometimes providing a real-life example is more valuable than lengthy discourses on the ins and outs of attracting media attention with highly personal stories of courageous individuals. Glory Cooper, Executive Director of Mobility Unlimited in Medford, Oregon provides us with a recent example.
Mobility Unlimited is dedicated to helping individuals with mobility problems obtain durable medical equipment necessary to live independent lives. In order to serve their clients, Mobility Unlimited applies for grants and cultivates individual donors. After receiving a grant from the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, the organization was saddened by news of his death.
As a poignant tribute to Reeve's memory, Debra Phenix, one of the individuals who benefited from his foundation's grant, graciously agreed to be interviewed and photographed for media outlets in Southern Oregon . Glory Cooper sent press releases about Phenix and the grant from Reeve's foundation to the media. She also coordinated a photo opportunity and made herself available for interviews about Mobility Unlimited.
As a real-life example, you'll find an article below that resulted from Cooper's efforts and Phenix's willingness to help. It ran in the Grants Pass Daily Courier newspaper on Tuesday, October 26. It was the featured story on their “Community” page and provided information for others with mobility issues to access organizations that help provide funding for durable medical equipment. It also honored the efforts of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Mobility Unlimited, the Oregon Community Foundation and private donors.
If there is an individual that's benefited from your nonprofit organization's services, they may be thrilled to make themselves available for press coverage. Regardless of the results, recipients of assistance will likely be flattered by requests for media availability and empowered by the ability to give back.
Click here for tips on writing a press release and read the Daily Courier article that was published as a result of Cooper's media savvy and Phenix's willingness to speak about her life. Find a related article about Market Wire in our archives by clicking here.
Local Woman Benefits From Reeve Foundation
Debra Phenix's spirit survived a car accident that left her paralyzed at the age of 10. A spinal cord injury left her with paralysis from the waist down, but she recalls few details from the crash and subsequent recovery.
“I was really young and I don't remember a lot except that I adapted really quick,” she says.
Her life got a little better recently, thanks to a grant from the foundation started by Christopher Reeve, the movie actor who once played Superman. Reeve, who was paralyzed in a horse-riding accident nine years ago, died earlier this month.
Phenix, of Grants Pass , said her teen and young adult years were spent redefining the limits of life in a wheelchair. “I've never wanted a motorized wheelchair, because I feel more in control by using my arms, she says.
Earlier this year, she received a new wheelchair lift for her van. Funding for the lift was coordinated by Mobility Unlimited and included grants from the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and the Oregon Community Foundation. Individual donors from Jackson and Josephine counties also contributed.
Reeve was most famous for his portrayal of Superman in a series of films during the 1980s. He became an advocate for individuals with spinal injuries after being paralyzed in a horse-riding accident in 1995. Reeve died earlier this month from cardiac arrest. His wife, Dana Reeve, plans to continue their foundation's work involving paralysis research and treatment, as well as advocacy for accessibility for people with disabilities.
The past year has been particularly hectic for Phenix. Since last October, she got married, had her first child and began a new job with Trans Link, operated by the Rogue Valley Transit District in Medford .
Phenix has been transferring herself from her wheelchair to her automobile and then hoisting her wheelchair into the vehicle since she began driving two years ago. She continued this tricky maneuver while she was pregnant. In January, she finalized plans for installation of a wheelchair lift on her van.
“I knew it would be impossible to transport my baby without a lift,” she explains.
Her in-laws realized the cost of the equipment and installation was beyond Phenix's budget and searched the Internet for funding options. They found Mobility Unlimited, a nonprofit agency in Medford dedicated to helping adults obtain durable medical equipment required to live independently and maintain employment.
Mobility Unlimited was established in 2000 by Bruce Hough and Nancy Saum Hough.
“Bruce lives with multiple sclerosis and needed an electric wheelchair,” says Glory Cooper, the nonprofit organization's executive director. “He had the money for his wheelchair, but had to cut through a lot of red tape to get it. Bruce realized the nightmare it must be for people without the means to pay for durable medical equipment and founded Mobility Unlimited to help them.”
Hough is the founder of ComNet Marketing Group in Medford .
Late last year, Cooper applied for a grant from Reeve's foundation and received $2,500 in January. She applied a portion of the grant, along with funding from Oregon Community Foundation and private donors to get Phenix's lift.
“Without the grants, I would've been paying for the lift for a really long time,” Phenix says. The wheelchair lift and installation cost more than $7,500.
“I would've gotten by without the lift if it weren't for my baby,” she says. “My husband, Josh, tried it out before I did to make sure it could handle the weight.”
Phenix says the lift has made her life a lot easier and she appreciates the financial help she received to pay for it. Cooper estimates that Mobility Unlimited has distributed over $100,000 to help about 24 clients purchase lifts, motorized wheelchairs, grab bars and wheelchair ramps.
Patty Phenix says her daughter-in-law is determined to live life to the fullest.
“I don't think there's anything that's ever stopped Debra,” Patty Phenix says. “She's gone jet skiing and four wheeling with my son.”
The nonprofit organizations that assisted Phenix in obtaining her wheelchair lift maintain Web sites with information for individuals needing financial assistance to purchase durable medical equipment. Mobility Unlimited can be found at www.mobilityunlimited.org/ ; Oregon Community Foundation is at www.ocf1.org/ ; and Christopher Reeve's foundation is at www.christopherreeve.org/ .
"So many of our dreams at first seem impossible... Then they seem improbable, and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." --Christopher Reeve
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