Actor Michael J. Fox has recently been in the news due to some exciting developments—first his reunion with fellow Back to the Future star Christopher Lloyd, and then a tease of a new project within this franchise. But now, Fox has been honored for what actor Woody Harrelson described as his “best performance” during the 2022 Governors Awards: his role as a Parkinson’s advocate. For this, Fox was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award—an honorary Oscar given for an individual's “outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes.”
Fox was first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease back in 1991, and became an advocate ever since. In the year 2000, he created the The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has become the largest non-profit supporter of Parkinson's disease research in the world, funding $1.5 billion in high-impact research programs to date.
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is given “to an individual in the motion picture arts and sciences whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry,” and few Hollywood figures have used their platform as well as Fox to shine a light on a condition and work across many channels to eradicate it. In his introducing remarks, Harrelson referred to Fox as the ultimate example of how to fight and how to live. “Vulnerable? Yes. Victim? Never. An inspiration? Always.”
At the ceremony, Fox gave a moving speech about how life changed since he learned he had Parkinson's disease. “The hardest part of my diagnosis was grappling with the certainty of the diagnosis and the uncertainty of the situation,” he said. “The diagnosis was definite and the progress was indefinite and uncertain.” The actor praised the support of his wife, Tracy Pollan, through thick and thin. “It struck me that everything I had been given—success, my life with Tracy, my family—had prepared me for this profound opportunity and responsibility.”
This was one of Fox's main public appearances since he retired from acting in 2020 due to the progression of his condition, and his speech earned a standing ovation at the ceremony. “Parkinson’s disease is the gift that keeps on taking. But it truly has been a gift,” he added. He then thanked all the others who are also driving the efforts with him, saying, “I'm grateful to them and to you because my optimism is fueled by my gratitude. And with gratitude, optimism is sustainable.”
Actor Michael J. Fox was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his Parkinson's advocacy.
Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease back in 1991. Nine years later, he created the The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has become the largest non-profit supporter of Parkinson's disease research in the world.
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