At a time when the issue of stem cell research seemed to be fading from the national consciousness, a number of advocates stepped forward – as the President described this morning
-- to ensure it wasn’t forgotten. None were more passionate than Christopher and Dana Reeve. We asked Peter Wilderotter, who is the current President and CEO of the Reeves Foundation, and who attended the signing today, to tell us what the day meant to him. This is what he told us:
Last Friday marked the three-year anniversary of the death of our beloved Dana and in an instant sadness turned to hope as only she could do when we learned of the President's decision to lift the restrictions. Today in the East Room of the White House to be surrounded by so many allies and friends who fought so long on this -- I was reminded of Chris Reeves’ edict that nothing is impossible. The eloquence of President Obama and his graceful and stirring remembrance of Chris and Dana shall echo always and be the fuel for our journey to provide today’s care as we search for tomorrow’s cures.
Here is that remembrance from the President as he closed out his remarks
at the ceremony today:
One of Christopher’s friends recalled that he hung a sign on the wall of the exercise room where he did his grueling regimen of physical therapy. It read: "For everyone who thought I couldn’t do it. For everyone who thought I shouldn’t do it. For everyone who said, ‘It’s impossible.’ See you at the finish line."
Christopher once told a reporter who was interviewing him: "If you came back here in ten years, I expect that I’d walk to the door to greet you."
Christopher did not get that chance. But if we pursue this research, maybe one day – maybe not in our lifetime, or even in our children’s lifetime – but maybe one day, others like him might.
There is no finish line in the work of science. The race is always with us – the urgent work of giving substance to hope and answering those many bedside prayers, of seeking a day when words like "terminal" and "incurable" are finally retired from our vocabulary.
Today, using every resource at our disposal, with renewed determination to lead the world in the discoveries of this new century, we rededicate ourselves to this work.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.
(Nobel Laureates stand behind President Barack Obama as he offers remarks Monday, March 9, 2009, in the East Room of the White House before the signing of the Stem Cell Executive Order and Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity. White House Photo by Pete Souza)