At the Academy Awards in Hollywood on Feb. 22, MDA National Chairman Jerry Lewis received one of the Academy’s greatest honors — the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
The award recognizes an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry. Past recipients include Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Bob Hope.
Renowned for his acting, directing and comedic talents, Lewis, 83, also has devoted much of his adult life to raising funds to find treatments and cures for people with muscular dystrophy and related muscle diseases.
“MDA is immensely proud that the man who has personified, for more than five decades, the Association’s dual missions of help and hope has received this extraordinary award,” said MDA President and CEO Gerald Weinberg. “The impact of his humanitarian efforts on all the peoples of the world is beyond measure.”
Jacob Richard, 11, of Sugar Land, Texas, seconds that emotion.
Richard (“Ree-shard ”), who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, met Lewis at the 2007 Telethon. The fifth-grader recently won an essay contest sponsored by the University of St. Thomas in Houston, in which contestants were to write about a person who has given a life of service. Richard’s winning entry concludes:
“MDA is blessed to have a person as inspiring as Jerry Lewis. What inspires me the most about him is that he never gives up on being with MDA and helping us have hope of finding a cure for my disease and all of the diseases. Thank you, Mr. Jerry Lewis.”