Despite being orphaned at such a tender age, Will Reeve thrived in the face of adversity and went on to fulfill his dreams of becoming a successful young man and carrying out his parent's legacy.
Life throws curveballs at us, sometimes so hard that they could break someone in the blink of an eye. How they muster what's left of their courage and brave through the hardships is the true measure of their grit. Christopher Reeve's youngest son, Will is one such example who was forced to deal with the death of his parents when he was just 13. Despite undergoing such a difficult phase in his life, Will managed to strive and become the successful 27-year-old young man, he is today.
Will was first subjected to tragic news when his father, the Superman star fell off a horse. The unfortunate accident left Christopher Reeve with a shattered first and second vertebrae. However, his physical disability did not hinder the actor from showering his son with his love and support. Determined to do as much as he could to grant his son a happy childhood, he did his absolute best. During an interview with PEOPLE in 2016, Will opened up about his amazing childhood, which he considered a "totally normal" one.
"They were the people who told me to turn off the TV, to eat my broccoli, to go to bed," Will lovingly recalled. "I understand that not every child experiences going to the grocery store and seeing their dad on the magazine at the checkout aisle, but … it was a totally normal childhood." Furthermore, he added, "The fact that he was paralyzed did present its own set of challenges because we couldn’t be spontaneous. That could be difficult, but my parents did such a good job of staying true to their values that I never felt deprived of a normal childhood, even though my experiences, at face value, were inherently different from other children my age."
He also, recalled his father teaching him how to ride a bike from his wheelchair. "I didn’t believe it was gonna work. I’m terrified, but I have my dad’s voice behind me going, ‘Steady, steady, left, right, left, right,'" he said, adding, "By the third lap, I’m smiling, looking at my dad, waving, and he’s smiling. That meant so much to him. Later on, I would race in him the wheelchair. He’d let me win." Just when they were piecing everything back together, his father died in 2004 due to a heart attack. This loss changed everything for the sports enthusiast, who was left alone to deal with his beloved mother's death, who too passed away two years later after succumbing to lung cancer. The 13-year-old boy was now orphaned.
Speaking to CBS News last year, he revealed a letter he had written to himself during the tough time. "I've got good news and bad news. I'll start with the bad, because you always need to know exactly what's going on, no matter what. That won't change, by the way. The bad news is: You're at the lowest point of your life. You're in a hospital room in New York City, and you've just said your final goodbye to Mom," he wrote. "You're 13. She's 44. Lung cancer. Never smoked. Gone, just like Dad, who died a year-and-a-half ago, which at the time was the lowest you had been. Now you're at a new bottom and you're terrified and confused and just so sad. But! Here's the good news: this is the low point. There's nowhere to go but up, and that's exactly where you're headed."
Although his parents were no more around to see their son blossom into the gem he is today, Will knew he had to fulfill his dreams for his parents. Eventually, he became an ESPN SportsCenter anchor. He also continues the good work of his parents through the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which aims at finding a cure for spinal cord injury and providing proper care for those suffering from paralysis. "I think his legacy is never going to go away and think that is a responsibility that I feel, to carry his and my mother’s legacy on for the rest of my life and hopefully beyond that," he told PEOPLE recently.
"I think that the foundation is one way, one tangible way, that his legacy and my mom’s legacy will always live on. And I think the way that I, and my siblings, live our lives is another way. And I think that his impact is felt by the millions of lives that he touched." Alongside half-siblings Matthew and Alexandra, Will carried on his parent's good work and hopes "I make my parents proud. I try to do that every day and like to think they would be."