GMA’s Robin Roberts to Headline Disability Summit

By Freddy Perez, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Where do care, cure and community connect? At the first-ever Reeve Summit 2020, February 26-28, 2020 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C.

This three-day summit, launched by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, will bring together hundreds of community members, caregivers, health professionals, key thought leaders and individuals who have had an extraordinary impact on the lives of people with paralysis and related disabilities to foster collaboration, independence, health promotion and innovation. Advocates like GMA’s Robin Roberts and The Harkin Institute’s former Senator Tom Harkin will deliver highly anticipated keynote addresses.

Reeve Summit 2020

Today’s Care is Tomorrow’s Cure

“In the 25 years since Christopher’s injury, we have invested over $100 million in research and last year assisted over 100,000 individuals and families impacted by paralysis with life-saving and life-changing information. With this conference, we are adding a third pillar to our mission—creating and supporting our community to help us shape and advance the Foundation’s quality of life and cure agenda,” said Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “This will be an annual undertaking that will bring forth Christopher’s belief that in the face of adversity, hope often comes in the form of a friend who reaches out to us.”

Robin Roberts: Make Your Mess Your Message

The courageous, bold and pioneering Robin Roberts, best known as co-anchor of Good Morning America, will share her experience of how to “make your mess your message,” gleaned from advice given to her by her mother after Roberts was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS. Her inspiring message is centered on the conviction that while everyone has some kind of hardship or heartbreak in their life, we all also have something to give—hope, encouragement or even a hug.

Robin Roberts took the GMA helm in 2005, becoming the first African American female anchor in the program’s history. Under her leadership, the broadcast has won numerous Emmy Awards for Outstanding Morning Program and the 2017 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Daytime TV Hosting Team.

Robin Roberts

Roberts has been honored with the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame as well as the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and was named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year in 2014. She was voted the “Most Trusted Person on Television” by a Reader’s Digest poll in 2013. After surviving a battle with breast cancer, Roberts was recognized with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs in July 2013, in recognition of the strength and courage she has displayed throughout her life and career.

Tom Harkin Continues Fight for Disability Rights

Former Senator Tom Harkin, champion of disability rights and chief architect of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), will give the keynote address at the inaugural Reeve Summit 2020.

Harkin grew up with a keen understanding of what it’s like to live with a disability and parlayed that knowledge into crafting and ensuring the passage of the ADA, arguably the most important legislation ever enacted to protect the rights of people with a physical or mental disability. As a Freshman Senator in 1984, he was recruited by the late Ted Kennedy to develop the legislation and made history when he argued for the passage of the law in sign language on the Senate floor.

Tom Harkin fighting for disability rights

The ADA, signed into law in 1990, is the crowning achievement of his 40-year career in Congress, first as a Representative from Iowa’s Fifth Congressional District, then as a Senator for five terms, but his commitment to disability rights extends far beyond the ADA—including the passage of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Act of 2009 and other legislation.

Harkin retired from the Senate in 2014, but his activism on behalf of the disability community continues, in part through his role as Senior Advisor to the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University, Des Moines, IA.

First Paralysis and SCI Conference Welcomes Disability Community

The Reeve Summit 2020: Where Care, Cure and Community Connect will touch on topics and themes relevant to the paralysis community and give everyone a chance to hear from experts, ask questions and share experiences on many aspects of life.

Advocacy – This conversation will have experts discussing the power of advocacy, for oneself, loved ones and creating movements.
Caregiving – Finding the right personal care attendant for your needs and one on one meet-ups with other caregivers.
Employment – Understanding government benefits versus employment benefits, how to ask for accommodations from your employer, and other tools to help find a job.
Health & Wellness – Reviewing critical situations to look out for, women’s health, intimacy and relationships, and how to take time for yourself.
Research – An explanation of the Reeve Foundation’s approach to research, what is changing in 2020, and promising new treatments for individuals living with paralysis will be discussed.

Building upon its groundbreaking past and deeply-rooted expertise, the Reeve Foundation will highlight its new approach to research, what is changing in 2020, and promising new treatments for individuals living with paralysis.

Christopher & Dana Reeve

To register for the Reeve Summit and learn more about the agenda and speakers, please go to For more information on corporate sponsorships, please contact Ivonne Salazar at or (973) 933-7121. For exhibitor information, please contact Lexie Gleason at or (973) 933-7211.

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