AARP The Magazine has announced the recipients of its tenth annual Inspire Awards, featuring some famous faces.
Each year the Inspire Awards pay tribute to outstanding individuals who inspire others to action through their innovative thinking, passion and perseverance. This year’s list of distinguished honorees includes Jane Goodall (The Conservationist), Steve Jobs (The Game Changer), Andy Czerkas (The AARP Foundation Hunger Hero), Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (The Chief Compromiser), Pat Summitt (The Alzheimer’s Advocate), Irene Zola (The Advocate for the Elderly), Toby Keith (The Supporter of U.S. Troops), Hilton Kelley (The Environmental Advocate), Emilio Estefan Jr. (The Latino Promoter) and Ret. Army Col. Bill Badger, Patricia Maisch, and Roger Salzgeber (The Arizona Shooting Heroes).
“Through their extraordinary efforts to lead, innovate, and give back in ways that make a real impact, this year’s honorees motivate our readers to make a make a difference in their own communities,” said Nancy Perry Graham, Vice President and Editor of AARP The Magazine. “This daring dozen are compassionate and forward-thinking individuals who define inspiration.”
This year’s honorees are profiled in the December/ January issue of AARP The Magazine, featuring cover star Meredith Vieira, in homes beginning November 25th.
THE 2012 INSPIRE AWARD WINNERS
Ret. Army Col. Bill Badger, Patricia Maisch, and Roger Salzgeber – The Arizona Shooting Heroes
Amid the bloody horror of the Tucson shootings last January, which took the lives of six people and wounded 13, it was possible to miss the acts of heroism that succeeded in bringing down gunman Jared Lee Loughner. After Loughner began shooting, retired Army Colonel Bill Badger, 75, grabbed Loughner’s wrist and pushed him to the ground. Roger Salzgeber, 61, also pounced, throwing his body weight on top of Loughner. As the gunman struggled to pull another magazine from his pocket, Patricia Maisch, 62, scooped it up, preventing him from reloading. All three point out that many others behaved with heroism that day: nearby shoppers, first-responders, and hospital personnel.
Jane Goodall – The Conservationist
Goodall has inspired generations as the world’s most famous primatologist and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute. More recently, she established Roots & Shoots, the institute’s global environmental program for youth. “I started meeting young people who felt we had compromised their future and that there was nothing they could do about it,” says Goodall, 77. “I decided it was terribly important to empower them.” Today the program boasts thousands of members, from more than 120 countries, who plant trees and organize conservation campaigns. Says Goodall: “They’re so full of ideas. You can’t help but be energized by them.”
Pat Summitt – The Alzheimer’s Advocate
For 37 seasons Pat Summitt, the head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team, has taught her players three values: dedication, the refusal to give up, and the commitment to honesty. In August 2011 she displayed those same traits, as well as her legendary toughness, in announcing her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Summitt, 59, has led her team to eight NCAA national championships and, as of press time, won more games than any other NCAA college basketball coach. She is not yet displaying symptoms severe enough to make her step down and has told her players she will stay on at her post as long as she can get the job done. “I just want [people] to understand that this is what I’m going through, but you don’t quit living,” she said. “You keep going.”
Andy Czerkas – The AARP Foundation Hunger Hero
When Andy Czerkas, 64, opened The River Food Pantry in Madison, Wisconsin, five years ago, he knew it would address a real need. But he didn’t expect that need to grow so fast—the number of families the pantry feeds is up 10 percent just since last year. Today the pantry distributes 25,000 pounds of food each week to up to 600 families. This isn’t the typical food bank: clients “shop” among the aisles as if they were in a grocery store, pick out donated clothing, and eat hot meals served every Friday night on tables set with flowers, tablecloths, and silver ware.
Toby Keith – The Supporter of U.S. Troops
When country singer Toby Keith, 50, agreed to do a two-week USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour of the Middle East in 2002, he thought it was a one-shot nod to his late father, an Army veteran. He’ s been back eight more times. During a 2007 trip to Afghanistan, Keith saw how troops in remote areas lived between “sandbag” walls, without the comforts of home. That inspired him to sponsor the USO2GO program, which has distributed more than 400 care packages to remote U.S. bases abroad. In 2009, Keith received the Distinguished Service Award from the Military Officers Association of America—an honor he says dwarfs his many music awards.
Hilton Kelley – The Environmental Advocate
When Hollywood stuntman and actor Hilton Kelley, 51, visited Port Arthur, Texas, for Mardi Gras in 2000, he was appalled by the changes in his once-thriving hometown: buildings were boarded up, unemployment was sky-high, and cancer rates were 20 percent higher than in the rest of the state—the result, he suspected, of the foul air that constantly belched from the smokestacks of the oil refineries at the edge of the city. Kelley decided to move back, and formed the Community In-Power & Development Association Inc. (CIDA), training Gulf Coast citizens to measure toxic-air levels, storming corporate shareholder meetings, and, when necessary, suing the polluters. The payoff? Reduced emissions, health care subsidies at the local clinic and a $3.5 million fund for new businesses.
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye – The Chief Compromiser
An 87-year-old Democrat, Inouye has represented Hawaii in the Senate since 1959. Best known for such high-profile assignments as the Watergate Committee in the 1970s and chairing the Iran-Contra Committee in the 1980s, Inouye is just as proud of his recent accomplishments: hashing out behind-the-scenes budget agreements, especially those on military spending, as chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “Anyone who is willing to stand in harm’s way on my behalf, I’m with ’em,” he says.
Steve Jobs – The Game Changer
Jobs’s charisma, design sense, and passion to make user-friendly products have altered the history of more than just the home computer. Over past next three decades, Jobs developed wildly inventive products that merged art with technology. He gave us the Macintosh, the iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad. Although his life ended too soon, Steve Jobs had an inspirational impact on the way we see the world.
Irene Zola – The Advocate for the Elderly
After her fiercely independent mother passed away at 97 in a nursing home with sub-par living conditions, Zola could not stop thinking about the plight of those still suffering in similar situations. Soon, she founded Lifeforce in Later Years, a nonprofit whose goal is to improve the quality of life for every community’s oldest members. The first project? Morningside Village, which pairs 57 seniors in Manhattan with 70 volunteers, who help with such tasks as grocery shopping, preparing meals, and getting to doctors’ appointments. “The volunteers get very close to their seniors,” Zola says. “They really start to feel as though they’re family.”
Emilio Estefan Jr. – The Latino Promoter
For more than three decades, Emilio Estefan Jr. has amassed producing credits for a Who’s Who of Latino singers: Shakira, Ricky Martin, and Gloria Estefan, his wife of 33 years. In 2009, Estefan readily stepped into the spotlight himself to cochair a congressional commission charged with developing a “plan of action” for a museum celebrating the achievements of Latinos in America. Last May, the commission recommended the Smithsonian American Latino Museum be established on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Estefan hopes the new museum will inspire young American Latinos to “see that their dreams can come true in this country.”
Find out more about the Inspire Awards here.