Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Photo Contest Winners Emphasize Triumphs in Living with Paralysis

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Online contest selects winners of “Share With the World the Faces and Places of Your Life”

Reeve Foundation Faces & Places Contest

“Every person living with paralysis has a powerful story that can be well-lived through vivid imagery,” said T. Wilderotter, Reeve Foundation President and CEO.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation announced two winners of its 2011 Faces & Places Photo Contest. Kristina Rhoades of Georgia is the winner of the Places category. Jerry Watkins, also of Georgia, is the winner of the Faces category and the overall grand prize winner.

Watkins will receive two hours of photography instruction from Christopher Voelker, an award-winning professional photographer with over 20 years of experience capturing countless celebrities, including Ringo Star, Billy Zane, Rhianna, and Beyonce. Voelker discovered photography after a motorcycle accident at 16 that left him living with quadriplegia.

Over 3,000 people participated in the online public voting for the 2011 Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s Faces & Places Photo Contest. The online contest featured portraits and travel destinations of the paralysis community.

“The Reeve Foundation invited the paralysis community to share their unique stories through our Faces & Places Photo Contest,” said Peter T. Wilderotter, Reeve Foundation President and CEO. “Every person living with paralysis has a powerful story that can be well-lived through vivid imagery.”

Watkins, 59, was determined to live his life to the fullest after an automobile accident in 2002 from which he is now living with a spinal cord injury. He went back to work the day after being discharged from the hospital. After his accident, he also engaged in his favorite pastime, umpiring.

"I was challenged from the guys I used to ump with to take it up again," explains Watkins,

Watkins has been umpiring from his wheelchair for about six years.

"Whatever you wish to do, you can do it, because that is all you need,” says Watkins. “You may not do it the same way, but you can do it."

Rhoades, 27, is living with a spinal cord injury since she was 10-months-old, but has always been active. Her photo shows just that when she decided to try rock climbing in Long Beach in the summer of 2010.

"It was just absolutely awesome. There's no better feeling, in my opinion, than accomplishment when you're trying to do something."

Though Rhoades knows there is a lot to conquer, she simply advises to believe in yourself.

"We sometimes forget that limitations can only be put on yourself. Society can think what they want, and stereotypes can exist, and physical barriers can be there, but if we believe in our own abilities, then really all that is irrelevant. Just believe in yourself and know that you're the only one that gets to put those limitations on."

About the Reeve Foundation
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. For more information, please visit our website at ChristopherReeve.org or call 800-225-0292.

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Janelle LoBello
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