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Michael J. Fox Honored with 2023 Elevate Prize Catalyst Award at Clinton Global Alliance

Actor and philanthropist Michael J. Fox has been awarded this year’s Elevate Prize Catalyst Award. Fox intends to use the award to advance his foundation’s work in finding treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 29 in 1991, received the award at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference in New York on Tuesday. The annual prize, which was awarded to Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai last year, includes $250,000 from the Elevate Prize Foundation and support to amplify the winner’s message.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who interviewed Fox on stage at CGI, credited him with research advancements in understanding Parkinson’s. “I don’t think this work would have made the progress it has if Michael hadn’t been so open,” she said.

Fox said that after receiving support from his family following his diagnosis, he did not hesitate to go public with it. “There’s such shame associated with this illness,” Fox said. “It’s so ridiculous, this great need to keep it secret. The cruel thing is it’s going to out you eventually.”

Despite the challenges, Fox stated that there is no choice but to “keep trying to move the ball forward – whether it’s world peace, climate change, or this disease.”

Former President Bill Clinton expressed his admiration for Fox, describing him as a brave and good man. “I’ve known Michael J. Fox for a long time, and he looks better every time I see him,” Clinton said.

Joseph Deitch, founder of The Elevate Prize Foundation, referred to Fox as “a lightning rod for good” as he presented him with the award.

Carolina García Jayaram, CEO of the Elevate Prize Foundation, described Fox as an icon who used the power of his story to raise awareness about Parkinson’s. “He was able to use the power of his story to introduce to so many people what this disease was and make us care about it,” she said.

Fox’s foundation has raised over $2 billion for research since its launch in 2000, significantly contributing to the understanding of Parkinson’s.

The Elevate Prize Foundation CEO added that Fox perfectly embodies this year’s CGI theme of “Keep Going” and praised his resilience and vulnerability. “It’s scary to be that vulnerable and share something so personal, especially when his job was to be a public figure. He did it anyway. Nothing will stop him,” she said.

Deborah Brooks, co-founder and CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, emphasized the importance of the award for the nonprofit. She highlighted the recent identification of a biomarker for Parkinson’s, which will greatly improve the chances of creating treatments and tests for the disease.

Brooks also mentioned the need for additional research funding and volunteers for testing in order to further develop new treatments. Fox plans to use the award to raise awareness and increase his influence.

Brooks stated, “Patients and families want to be part of the solution they are looking for,” and emphasized the foundation’s efforts to connect patients to testing programs through the Fox Trial Finder.

New breakthroughs in Parkinson’s research will require significant funding, and Fox aims to use the award to promote awareness and encourage people to contribute.

The philanthropy and nonprofit coverage of the Associated Press (AP) is supported by the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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