Originally created 05/25/04

Actor Christopher Reeve offers insight at commencement ceremony



MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Actor Christopher Reeve told Middlebury College's graduating class Sunday that they should not lose sight of the difference they can make in the world, adding that "inaction is unacceptable."

The crowd grew hushed when Reeve, who sits in a motorized wheelchair, was pushed by an assistant to center stage.

"We can rationalize inaction by deciding that one voice or one vote doesn't matter, or we can make the choice that inaction is unacceptable," said Reeve, who was paralyzed from the shoulders down after he fell from a horse in 1995.

"Whether or not you realize it right now, the education you have received here has prepared you to pursue your own ambitions without losing sight of the invaluable difference you can make in this world," Reeve told the class of 625 graduating seniors.

Reeve's wife, Dana, graduated from Middlebury College in 1984, and his brother, Jeffrey, is also an alumnus.

In an interview with The Associated Press after his speech, Reeve said he sees "a grassroots movement" toward more stem cell research, mentioning private research centers at Harvard University and in Cleveland.

Reeve said President Bush has a "moral obligation" to hear evidence supporting embryonic stem cell research. Bush's policy limits federal funding for such research to stem cell colonies created before August 2001.

"As president he has a responsibility to the greatest good for the greatest number of people," Reeve said.

Some scientists say stem cell research holds the most promise for helping Reeve recover.

In 2000, the actor best known for his role as "Superman" was able to move his index finger, and a specialized workout regimen has made his legs and arms stronger. He has also regained sensation in other parts of his body.