Actor Zoe Saldana-Perego and Artist Marco Perego-Saldana and Paramount Pictures’ Wyck Godfrey and Dr. Mary Kerr were recently honored for their support of quality health care for women and their families wherever they live — the global mission of Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University.
“It is a privilege to be in the room [with] people that are saving lives … around the world. You are true superheroes,” said Ms. Saldana-Perego, star of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie franchise and recipient of Jhpiego’s Visionary Award with her husband. “Your mission is dear to my heart and Marco’s and we are deeply invested in your success.”
Dr. Kerr, a prominent Los Angeles obstetrician-gynecologist and Johns Hopkins alumna, and Mr. Godfrey, President of Paramount Motion Picture Group, recognized Jhpiego’s “inspiring and lifesaving work” during the annual “Laughter Is the Best Medicine” gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. “Hearing firsthand stories of Jhpiego’s work, Wyck and I were humbled by the scale and scope of the millions of women and families who have benefited from their ingenious and positive influence around the world.”
The couple were honored with Jhpiego’s Elyse Bila Ouedraogo Award.
Jhpiego President and CEO Leslie Mancuso shared with the audience the significant challenges faced by women and families in the more than 40 countries where Jhpiego works. “At current rates of progress, women in sub-Saharan Africa will have to wait more than 160 years before they have the same chances as women in the United States of giving birth safely,” she said.
“Jhpiego has worked for 45 years to end those disparities by partnering with “countries to identify their greatest health challenges, collaborate in developing innovative, sustainable solutions, and partner with them to get the job done,” she continued.
Comedian Tom Papa emceed the event and the comedy folk duo Garfunkel and Oates performed.
“It’s wonderful that your theme this evening is ‘Laughter Is the Best Medicine’ because it’s true,” said Ms. Saldana-Perego. "Nothing makes us feel better than hearing our giggly, bouncy boys laughing and enjoying life. That joy would not be possible without the expert medical care of the incredible doctors and nurses that were there when our twins were born prematurely.
“Too many women lack access to medical care before, during and after pregnancy, too many children are born places that don’t have the lifesaving technology. The experience that Marco and I had gave us strength, gave us a strong sense of responsibility. We had to be a part of the solution. I want every mom and every child to have access to the same lifesaving care that we did.”