Robin Williams' Gift to the SCI Community

 

Farewell Mrs. Doubtfire

I remember Mrs. Doubtfire like it was yesterday. It was one of Robin Williams’ most poignant performances where he played a father going through a divorce who impersonates a nanny to be part of his children’s daily lives. His character quick wit and simultaneous vulnerability moved us from laughter to tears with each infamous gesture. We left the movie theater feeling satisfied and happy.

A global activist and philanthropist, Mr. Williams gave the SCI community much more than laughter and entertainment. Dear friends with the late Christopher Reeve, Robin Williams had first-hand experience with SCI. Classmates at Julliard, the late Dana Reeve said they were “closer than brothers”. After Mr. Reeve’s spinal cord injury, Robin was by his side at the hospital giving him hope and his first belly laugh through his hilarious Russian proctologist antic. Following Robin’s passing, President & CEO, Peter Wilderotte shared, “Without hesitation, Robin joined the Reeve Foundation Board of Directors and immediately assumed the role of advocate for our community. For his dedication and unwavering support, the Reeve Foundation honored Robin in 1998 at A Magical Evening with the inaugural “Human Spirit Award” and then recognized him again in 2007 at an event in Los Angeles. Even his attendance at events resulted in a surge of supporters reaching out to contribute to the Reeve Foundation mission.”

Ph.D. M.D. Wise Young of the W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience paints a picture of Robin’s heartfelt commitment in his notes on Christopher Reeve’s Eulogy –

“Finally, Robin Williams came out. He had a bottle of water and he splashed some of it on a plant on stage, calling it a stem cell. I cannot reproduce Robin Williams here and it would not be fair to do so. So, let me just say that I have seen Robin many times on stage. I have never seen him as sad and tired-looking as this time. Very typically, he would be filled with manic energy and four-lettered words. But the only four-letter words that I heard that afternoon were “hope” and “cure”. He kept the audience roaring with laughter, however. Many people were crying. Whether it was for joy or sadness, it was hard to tell. Robin ended up reading two poems. One was from ee cummings that ended, how do you like your blue-eyed boy Mister Death…”

Rest in peace Robin Williams. May you and your “blue eyed boy” Christopher Reeve once again share belly laughs without a care in the world. Thank you for the tireless hours you spent fundraising for the SCI community. We are making progress. …And thank you for the many films you made that will continue to keep your legacy alive…and make us laugh.

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