|An Evening with Christopher Reeve|
April 26th, 2001
Last week, one of the research doctors from UF, Dr. Martin, e-mailed me to say that Christopher Reeve was going to speak on Wednesday the 25th of April at the O'Connell Center (where the Gators play basketball). This sounded like an excellent opportunity for me to meet the super man. Dr. Martin is on a first name basis with Mr. Reeve and I thought the good doctor might be able to arrange some kind of brief meeting. Of course the plan was contingent upon me being able to get to Gainesville, which was in serious doubt since the chair back part of my wheelchair broke - with me in it.
So we were scrambling to get my wheelchair fixed in time to see Christopher Reeve on Wednesday and as late as Tuesday afternoon, it was still in doubt. But God smiled upon us (thanks Lee & Mike!) and my wounded wheelchair was able to make the trip. On to Gainesville!
The University of Florida's Speakers Bureau has been bringing prominent speakers to Gainesville since the 1960s and they had been trying to get Christopher Reeve for some time now. Mission accomplished and we had front row seats!
This was the second time that I saw Christopher Reeve speak. I saw him in Jacksonville last year at a Peter Lowe success seminar. Unfortunately for us, the only place at each venue with enough space for my giant wheelchair was right next to the stage! Tough break:).
Mr. Reeve spoke for about 45 minutes. He talked about what's important in life. He touched on several aspects of life and used personal examples, adding humor and humility. He ultimately emphasized finding a passion and pursuing it with zest. Altogether, I was quite impressed.
Now for the point of this story.
After his speech, it was question/answer time with the audience of about five thousand. There were several open microphones and several floating through the handicapped section so that those with questions could ask. My Dad kept telling me to ask him when he's gonna do a weightshift (us quads need to tilt or recline in our wheelchairs for a minute, or so, every half-hour to prevent pressure sores) since he'd been on stage for about an hour without doing one. I wanted to ask a perfect question, or make a perfect comment. Besides Mr. Reeve, I was the only other person there on a vent and the only other person there with a sip 'n' puff controlled chair. When they said he'd take one or two more questions, I was still speechless and searching for the ideal thing to say. I wound up not saying anything at all and it wasn't until the morning after (today) that I realized that I'd missed a golden opportunity.
This is the dialogue that should have occurred:
Bill: "Hi Mr. Reeve, my name is Bill Miller and I'm a C1-2 on a vent, like you. I have several thoughts so please bear with me. First off, you are THE MAN. <Audience begins to applaud> Hang on, hold your applause please. Mr. Reeve, it's no secret that you've inspired millions -- of both people and dollars -- with your courageous crusade toward a cure. It's one step at a time and your efforts have us miles ahead of where we would be, were you not so determined. You truly are THE MAN!!!!!!!!!! <Thunderous applause from audience and standing ovation!>
Bill: "I share your dream and concrete belief of not-only walking again, but achieving a full recovery and I'd like to help any way possible. I don't want to ride on your coattails. Up to Atlanta and down to St. Petersburg, I've done some public speaking and I fancy myself the Christopher Reeve of Florida. I want to join you. I want to work side by side with you and help you lead the charge toward a cure!"
Mr. Reeve: "Ok, Bill, stick around after the show and we'll talk about maybe making you the official Christopher Reeve of Florida."
Bill: "That sounds great, thanks."
And so it goes. I didn't get to meet him BUT, I WILL contact Christopher Reeve and I will convey my desire to join the fight.
I WANT TO BE THE ROBIN TO HIS BATMAN.