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Christopher Reeve's Son Carries On His Father's Mission To Help People With Spinal Cord Injuries

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Matthew Reeve, son of the late actor Christopher Reeve, knows the question is coming.

Everyone asks it. Even people on the street.

"What was it like to grow up with Superman as a father?" Rita Garcia, reporting for CBS2, asked that question, too, when she sat down with Matthew Reeve to discuss his father and his mission -- to carry the torch his father once held, to help people with spinal cord injuries.

"It was interesting," says Reeve, "he was recognized ...everywhere. People would just be walking down the street and be like, 'Hey, Superman!"

As an actor, the Julliard-trained Christopher Reeve worked steadily -- he started out on the now defunct soap "Love of Life." But "Superman" put him on the map, literally and figuratively. He was an almost overnight superstar when the movie came out in 1978. (Ironically, the producers were said to have passed on him at least three times.)

Off-camera, he was also known for being quite the athlete. He enjoyed sports and riding horses.

However, on May 27 1995, Reeve had a horse riding accident that snapped his spine making Reeve a quadriplegic. At the time of the accident, Matthew was just 15. "It was amazing to watch him persevere and pull through. I don't think that he would have been able to carry on the way he did."

After the accident, Reeve's life hung in the balance. For months. Had he not been such an athlete, he probably would have died at the time of his accident. (Reeve died from cardiac arrest in October 2004.)

His break, which left him paralyzed from the neck down, first had him contemplate suicide. But then he became a man with a mission -- to help research and fund spinal cord research.

He set up the Christopher Reeve Foundation. Matthew would also lose his step mother, Dana, in March of 2006, to lung cancer.) "[She] was an absolute angel," he told Garcia, "she kept dad going. She was a simply unbelievable woman who I loved very much."

That much is clear. After Dana died, Reeve and his siblings added her name to the foundation. And Matthew joined the board. "I'm honored to be able to do my best to carry that work forward."

For more information about Matthew Reeve and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, click here.

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