Sure, he’s an ESPN correspondent and an athletic guy who played a lot of sports growing up, but when it comes to running, Will Reeve, the son of Christopher and Dana Reeve, was never very enthusiastic.
But that hasn’t stopped him from entering the New York City Marathon this year to raise money for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
“I always promised my family, my friends and the folks at the foundation, ‘I’ll do it next year,’” says Reeve, 24. “Because I’m not a runner — and that hasn’t really changed — I didn’t think I could do it. Then I realized there is no place for excuses around here, not with the work we’re trying to do at the Reeve Foundation. My parents’ legacy is not one of excuse making — so let’s just do it. Before I could second guess myself, I signed up and hit the road.”
Will is part of Team Reeve, a group of some 50 runners who have goal of raising 500,000 collectively for the foundation. While his personal goal is to raise 30,000 dollars, he says “I have every intention of hitting that goal and raising it again in the days leading up to the marathon.” (He’s currently at just over $25,000.)
“On my first day, I ran four miles just to see what I could do,” he says about beginning training in May. “I had never run that far before — I knew I would be motivated by the Reeve Foundation to raise money and spread awareness for spinal cord injury research and to care for those with paralysis. I’m motivated by those people, the stories I’ve been told, my parents and the people donating. The motivation will not be a problem.”
“Our mission is two fold.” he says of the foundation’s work. “Today’s care and tomorrow’s cure.”
He recently completed a 20 mile run in preparation. “It was not easy run,” he says. “None of them really are but it’s something I’ve really come to care about and that’s what keeps me going. On these longer runs, I’m reminding myself of why I’m doing it, and that may sound a bit over the top or cheesy, but it actually really helps because if I was just doing this for myself, there are times where I would just pack it in but by reminding myself that there are people counting on me, that’s what’s gotten me through the long slogs of training.”
“I always say my parents to the world are one thing,” says Reeve. “They’re an inspiration, a model of love and commitment and determination. And they tried to instill those values in me and I try to uphold their values every day. I see them as that but I also see them as just Mom and Dad. Their legacy informs everything that I do because I want to make them proud and I also want to honor our family name and carry the Reeve name and legacy into the future.”
Now he has his eye — almost — on the finish line.
“At the end of it, just past the finish line, we’ll have a Team Reeve celebration at a nearby bar,” says Reeve with a laugh. “And that’s the first place I’m sprinting to — if I can even move after the race.”