The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation announced today that it will host its inaugural “A Magical Evening Chicago” Gala on Thursday, October 22, 2015, at The Peninsula Chicago hotel.

The evening will commemorate advancements in spinal cord research, and highlight the efforts of Chicago supporters to raise funds and awareness for the Reeve Foundation mission.

This year’s event will honor Chicago-based nonprofit leader Geoff Kent with the Jon O’Connor Visionary Leader Award and former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon with the Christopher Reeve Spirit of Courage Award. A Magical Evening Chicago will also feature Kathy Brock, co-anchor of ABC 7 News, as the host for the evening.

As the founder of Spinal Cord Injury Sucks, Geoff Kent has raised over $700,000 to fund cutting-edge spinal cord research and translational studies. Based in Chicago, Kent’s nonprofit presence has served to support and advocate for individuals living with paralysis similar to Jon O’Connor, the namesake of the Visionary Leader Award. O’Connor passed in 2013 following complications as a result of his spinal cord injury.

Jim McMahon led the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl victory in 1985 and went on to be one of the most celebrated football players in Bears history. However, his work off the field to heighten safety in sports has resulted in greater awareness of injuries sustained by professional and collegiate athletes. The Christopher Reeve Spirit of Courage Award honors leaders who challenge barriers that restrict equality and advocate for improved quality of life for individuals living with disabilities. Presenting the award to McMahon is legendary Chicago Bears coach and three-time Super Bowl champion, Mike Ditka.

“This year marked the start of a new era for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation as we uncover potential therapies for spinal cord injury after decades of research. At A Magical Evening Chicago we will celebrate unprecedented progress in research and continue to move our life-changing work forward,” said Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO of the Reeve Foundation. "Chicago is the home of many steadfast Reeve Foundation supporters who carry the torch of our founders. Both Geoff Kent and Jim McMahon are exemplary individuals who have worked tirelessly to accelerate change for millions of Americans living with disabilities. They embody the very fabric of the Reeve Foundation mission and live by Christopher Reeve's words that ’nothing is impossible."

The gala will also highlight the Reeve Foundation’s most ambitious campaign — The Big Idea — which aims to fast track the next phase of epidural stimulation research that enabled four young men to voluntarily move their legs, stand, and recover critical autonomic functions in the presence of the intervention. For more information on The Big Idea, visit:

The Reeve Foundation Board of Directors includes John M. Hughes (Chairman), John E. McConnell (Vice Chairman), Henry G. Stifel, III (Vice Chairman), Matthew Reeve (Vice Chairman, International Development), Joel M. Faden (Treasurer), Jeffrey P. Cunard (Secretary), Peter T. Wilderotter (President & Chief Executive Officer), Timothy J. Connors, Stephen Evans-Freke, Simone George, Kelly Anne Heneghan, Esq., Lisa Henry Holmes, Daniel Heumann, Michael Hoog, Sal Iannuzzi, Anita McGorty, Timothy R. Pernetti, Mark Pollock, Will Reeve, David Sable, Marci Surfas, Christopher Tagatac, Tania Lynn Taylor, Patricia J. Volland and James O. Welch, Jr.

Through the Reeve Foundation’s persistence and promise, neuroscientists around the world agree that repairing the damaged spinal cord is not a question of if, but a question of when. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is a national nonprofit organization 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. Proceeds from A Magical Evening Chicago enable the Reeve Foundation to continue its pivotal work.

The Reeve Foundation will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of its signature New York gala, A Magical Evening, on November 19, 2015, at Cipriani Wall Street.

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