[ CHRISTOPHER REEVE / 1952-2004 ]

Reeve accepts the National Courage Award given to him by the Courage Center on Oct. 27, 1996, in Bloomington, Minn.

Actor soared
above injury

Quadriplegic finds hope
in Reeve's life

To Honolulu law clerk Garrick Lau, actor Christopher Reeve really was Superman.

"A person like him who takes a tragedy and finds a bigger purpose," said Lau, a quadriplegic, "that's the kind of person you really look up to."

Lau said he considered Reeve "a champion" and inspiration. The 30-year-old has been a strong Hawaii supporter of Reeve and his work for more than five years, and even had hopes of someday meeting the actor.

"I just hope that he doesn't fade away," Lau said. "I hope that they find a way to honor him yearly."

Reeve, who died yesterday in New York, is best remembered for his "Superman" role. Since a 1995 horseback riding accident left him paralyzed, he also became known as a strong advocate of spinal cord awareness and research.

Actor Christopher Reeve is shown in a scene from the film "Superman."

Lau said last night that Reeve's signs of improvement years after the actor's injury gave hope to scores of spinal cord injury survivors, most of whom are told they have to accept their physical disability and expect it not to get better.

"People like me, we're always looking for hope," Lau said. "I knew that he was doing something good in the world. I hope his legacy lives on."

Thirteen years ago, Lau broke his neck and was paralyzed from the shoulders down when he dived through a wave and hit a sandbar during a senior class trip at Waimanalo Beach Park. He went on to earn business administration and law degrees at the University of Hawaii and began working for family lawyer Everett Cuskaden in 2002.

"I truly believe I will walk again," Lau said. "It's a matter of when."

Lau said the actor's nonprofit group, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, increased the public's awareness of spinal cord injuries and helped raise funds for much-needed research.

"It's so ironic," Lau said. "He was Superman, and then he was no longer independent. He definitely showed people that life goes on."

Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation



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