When coupled with the Recovery Act, which makes an historic $3 billion investment creating jobs that will restore and protect our landscapes and our ecosystems, preserve our national monuments, retrofit our facilities for energy efficiency and renewable energy– taken together, today’s legislation takes another step toward fulfilling Teddy Roosevelt’s vision for this land that we love.
It’s a vision that sees America’s great wilderness as a place where what was and what is and what will be — all are the same; a place where memories are lived and relived; a place where Americans both young and young at heart can freely experience the spirit of adventure that has always been at the heart of the rugged character of America.
Now, the legislation I’m signing today also makes progress on another front for which many Americans have long waited.
The Christopher and Dana Reeve’s Paralysis Act is the first piece of comprehensive legislation specifically aimed at addressing the challenges faced by Americans living with paralysis. (Applause.) Many folks and organizations from across the disability community worked hard to get this bill passed, and we are grateful to each of you for bringing us that much closer to providing all Americans with disabilities a full, fair and equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
This act creates new coordinated research activities through the National Institutes of Health that will connect the best minds and best practices from the best labs in the country, and focus their endeavors through collaborative scientific research into the cure for paralysis, saving effort, money, and, most importantly, time.
It promotes enhanced rehabilitation services for paralyzed Americans, helping develop better equipment and technology that will allow them to live full and independent lives free from unnecessary barriers. And it will work to improve the quality of life for all those who live with paralysis, no matter what the cause.
That’s the mission of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. In the lobby of their facility in New Jersey sits Christopher’s empty wheelchair. And his son, Matthew Reeve, was once asked if the sight of it ever saddened him, and he replied no. He said, “Empty chairs — that was Dad’s goal,” he said. “We hope there will be many more of them.”
Matthew is here with us today. And the legislation I’m about to sign makes solid progress toward the realization of that hope and the promise of a brighter future.
All in all, this legislation is that rare end product of what happens when Americans of all parties and places come together in common purpose to consider something more than the politics of the moment. It’s the very idea at the heart of this country: that each generation has a responsibility to secure this nation’s promise for the next. And by signing this bill into law, that’s what we’re doing today.
So — is Matthew here, by the way? Matthew, come on up. (Applause.) Let’s sign this bill. (Applause.)