SHORT HILLS, N.J., April 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation announced today that Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, six-time Olympic gold medal swimmer, has officially joined ranks with the nonprofit to serve as Captain of Team Reeve, a newly created role to amplify grassroots fundraising efforts to improve quality of life and find cures for spinal cord injury.
As Captain of Team Reeve, the community-driven fundraising arm of the Reeve Foundation, Van Dyken-Rouen will work to rally recruits with the goal of expanding the program and identifying new opportunities for prospective participants to get involved with the Reeve Foundation. Additionally, she will continue to document her recovery from the spinal cord injury she sustained last year; this includes addressing the lesser-known complications of paralysis like pain, bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction, as a means to educate and empower people to join Team Reeve.
"Prior to my accident, I did not understand the full impact of a spinal cord injury, such as the life-threatening complications that exist beyond immobility. I have a new purpose in life and that is to raise awareness and rally recruits for Team Reeve," said Van Dyken-Rouen. "What I have learned as an Olympian and even more recently with my injury is that teamwork is paramount to success. To truly make a difference—to change the world—we need to unite and charge towards the finish line. If my story inspires even one person to join Team Reeve, we will be one person stronger to advance our collective mission of discovering cures for spinal cord injury."
Team Reeve recruits participants to run marathons, host local events or engage in various opportunities to support the six million Americans living with paralysis. To capitalize on the program's recent growth, the Reeve Foundation created the Captain role to identify a partner and leader who embodies the Reeve mission. This spotlights an effort to drive recruitment by demonstrating the impact of raising funds for research and quality of life initiatives.
"For quite some time, we have wanted to appoint a spokesperson to rally the troops around Team Reeve," said Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO of the Reeve Foundation. "Christopher Reeve was the face of research and Dana Reeve was the pulse of quality of life efforts, but we lacked a powerhouse to unite the masses under Team Reeve. Amy Van Dyken-Rouen has demonstrated an unstoppable spirit by pushing limits and inspiring people through her journey. Her willingness to speak out and drive awareness makes her the ideal fit as Captain of Team Reeve."
In June 2014, Van Dyken-Rouen sustained a spinal cord injury at T11 and T12, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down, as a result of being thrown from an ATV. In less than a year since her accident, Van Dyken-Rouen has used her injury as a platform to address the realities of living with a spinal cord injury and the complexities of navigating the health care system.
Recently, Van Dyken-Rouen launched Amy's Army, a fundraising program of the Amy Van Dyken Foundation to provide equipment and resources to individuals living with spinal cord injury who are unable to afford them due to the vast health and rehabilitation expenses resulting from a spinal cord injury. According to the University of Alabama, the average yearly cost of a spinal cord injury can range up to $775,567 in medical expenses during the first year alone.
This announcement comes on the heels of Team Reeve's main recruitment season for the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon and Bank of America Chicago Marathon. In 2014, more than 300 individuals participated with Team Reeve nationwide, raising nearly $600,000 from athletic events to local gatherings, such as wine tastings, school fundraisers, and corporate challenges. For more information on Team Reeve, visit www.TeamReeve.org.
About the Reeve Foundation
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. We meet all 20 of the Better Business Bureau's standards for charity accountability and hold the BBB's Charity Seal. For more information, please visit our website at www.ChristopherReeve.org or call 800-225-0292.
About Amy's Army:
The Amy Van Dyken Foundation and Amy's Army will provide necessary medical equipment to people with spinal cord injuries that they cannot afford through their own means or insurance. For more information, visit www.AmyVanDyken.org
SOURCE Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation