10/21/2004 at 09:00 AM EDT
Barely 10 days after her husband's death, Christopher Reeve's widow, Dana, plans to join Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry Thursday night in Columbus, Ohio, for a campaign speech about the importance of science, research and innovation.
The campaign said she approached the Massachusetts senator about making what probably will be her only campaign appearance, the Associated Press reports. Reeve, as did her husband, supports Kerry's intention to expand federally funded embryonic stem-cell research.
Christopher Reeve, who became a quadriplegic after a 1995 riding accident, became an outspoken advocate of spinal cord research, including looser restrictions on stem-cell research. Kerry and the actor knew each other for about 15 years, through family and political connections.
Kerry told PEOPLE the Superman star left him a lengthy cell phone message the day before he died, thanking the candidate for mentioning him during that week's presidential debate and for all his campaigning on behalf of medical research.
"I got a very long, detailed message about how excited he was that I talked about stem-cell research and how elated he was that it was at the level it was of discussion and how hopeful he was that we could really advance it," Kerry said.
Reeve's death has since become a political issue, as Kerry and President Bush battle over the ethics of stem-cell research using embryos destroyed for research.
The incumbent limited federally funded research to lines already existing before his 2001 executive order, a decision criticized by some scientists and research advocates.