Actress-advocate Molly Sims and her husband, Scott Stuber, Global Head of Netflix Films, and Heidi Murkoff, author and creator of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the world’s most popular pregnancy and parenting brand, and her husband and life partner, Erik, turned the spotlight on parents worldwide who face agonizing decisions to keep their children safe and healthy.
In accepting humanitarian awards from Jhpiego, a global health nonprofit and Johns Hopkins University affiliate, the couples shared their vision of a better world that is focused on supporting safe births, healthy children and thriving families wherever they live.
Jhpiego, whose work over nearly 50 years has delivered quality health care for women and families in 155 countries, recognized the two couples at the organization’s Laughter Is the Best Medicine 2021 gala, a virtual affair broadcast live and featuring special appearances by rock-star comedian Kevin Hart, actress Jennifer Garner and U.S. Senator Christopher Coons, a close friend of the Murkoffs. Comedic talent Tom Papa emceed the event.
Molly and Scott, who received Jhpiego’s Elyse Bila Ouedraogo Award, shared the reason they have supported Jhpiego’s mission to save lives, improve health and transform futures—its impact on vulnerable families.
“Every single one of us has an obligation to give back,” Sims said, as she praised Jhpiego’s work. “That’s the spirit of our celebration tonight. That’s the work we all have to do together—to get involved, to bring others along, to make sure this work continues for our children and the generations to come.”
“We’re grateful to be Jhpiego’s partners in this work—helping more families, mothers and children live with the health and dignity they deserve,” Stuber said, while addressing guests at the event.
Heidi and Erik, who have devoted decades to improving the experience and outcomes of pregnant women and their babies both nationally and internationally, received Jhpiego’s Visionary Award for their groundbreaking efforts to educate and empower millions of women during this most vulnerable time in their lives.
“Every mom—without exception—wants what’s best for her baby,” said Heidi, on behalf of the couple. "Every mom wants the healthiest start for her baby’s life. And every mom deserves the respectful, responsive care she needs to deliver a healthy pregnancy, a safe birth, and a healthy future for herself and the little one she loves.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child and that’s true,” Heidi added. “But first that village must safely deliver a healthy baby to a healthy mom. Let’s all be that village supporting moms who need it most.”
In reflecting on the gala’s theme, Dr. Leslie Mancuso, Jhpiego’s President and CEO, applauded the honorees’ selflessness in support of families and shared values that motivate us to act during extraordinary events.
“No one is safe until we’re all safe keeps us from standing still. It keeps us innovating ahead of the curve,” she said. “Friends like you have given us the ability to meet the moment, whatever that moment is. You have supported us in delivering lifesaving health care to the most vulnerable communities in the world. On behalf of all of us at Jhpiego, thank you.”
Actors Hart and Garner offered uplifting toasts to the honorees and Jhpiego. Mr. Hart, starring in the soon-to-be-released film “Fatherhood,” shared the story of a real-life dad whose wife died in childbirth. He applauded Jhpiego’s work to prevent similar deaths and empower women to demand and receive quality health services.
“The work that you have done is truly unreal. You have decreased a high number of maternal deaths … right now you guys are making an impact to change the lives of women and their families and give self-care,” Hart said in a recorded address. “There is such a good drive and initiative behind change. I support you in doing that. I think you are the real heroes and I think the awards being given tonight are well-deserved.”
To the guests watching, Mr. Hart said, “I encourage you all to dig deep. Let’s all be a part of something good and that’s change. A salute to Jhpiego and all the work that you have done.”
For more information about Jhpiego and its annual gala, visit www.jhpiego.org.