PHOENIX - (October 18, 2012) – Make-A-Wish America today announced the recipients of its 23rd annual Chris Greicius Celebrity Awards, the inaugural Douglas Kiker Award and a Special Recognition Award for the largest number of wishes granted by one celebrity at its Evening of Excellence Awards Ceremony.
“Make-A-Wish honorees are not simply promotional faces and voices – they are essential to fulfilling our wish-granting mission,” said David A. Williams, president and chief executive officer of Make-A-Wish America. “Every year we honor a select group of individuals who go above and beyond to create wish experiences that make life better for wish kids, families and communities.”
The Chris Greicius Celebrity award is given to celebrities who exhibit exceptional dedication to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Their contributions result in life-changing experiences for wish kids wishing to meet them. In fiscal year 2011, nearly 14,000 wishes were granted across the country; more than 900 of those involved celebrities.
This year’s Chris Greicius Celebrity Award recipients include:
Bethany Hamilton is a professional surfer, best known as the inspiration for the movie Soul Surfer, and was featured as a celebrity wish granter in last year's ESPN My Wish series. Bethany’s resilience, energy and encouragement inspire each of the wish kids she teaches to surf when they visit her home state of Hawaii.
Katy Perry is one of America’s top female performing artists. When she's not pumping out hits, Katy is busy granting wishes, including a special one for Owen in her hit movie, Part of Me. As a social media magnate, Katy’s support on Twitter is instrumental in spreading awareness about Make-A-Wish among her 27 million followers.
Selena Gomez has granted wishes that include personal meet and greets and wishes during her time on Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place. She’s known for creating personal and unique wish experiences for the kids who wish to meet her.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder is a generous supporter of Make-A-Wish Oklahoma, providing tickets for wish families to attend games, recognizing generous supporters and donating auction items for local events. The team recently granted a wish for 17-year-old Lorelei, where she was made honorary coach for the day. Head coach Scott Brooks, accompanied by Lorelei, accepted the award at the Evening of Excellence ceremony Thursday night.
The Douglas Kiker Award
Make-A-Wish introduced The Douglas Kiker Award at this year’s Evening of Excellence. The award is given by Make-A-Wish America to individuals and organizations in today’s news, information and entertainment media who lend extraordinary efforts to extend the Make-A-Wish story to the public in ways that help us grant more and better wishes. In 1982, just two years after Make-A-Wish was founded, Kiker produced a national television segment about this new charity in Phoenix doing something different for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. His piece caused a national sensation, and was largely responsible for the explosive growth of Make-A-Wish into the international phenomenon it is today. It inspired the creation of the first generation of Make-A-Wish chapters across the nation.
This year’s Douglas Kiker award winner was NBCUniversal. The award was presented to Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics, and Operations, Strategy, NBC Sports Group.
NBC played a major role in sharing the story of Olympic wishes in London. The national network and more than 22 NBC affiliates aired stories of wish kids in London, and several NBC entities published online segments, photo galleries or wish family blogs.
300th Wish Recognition
The final award of the evening recognized WWE Superstar John Cena. John Cena set a Make-A-Wish record this year by granting his 300th wish. Cena, a Celebrity Wish Ambassador and previous recipient of the prestigious Chris Greicius Celebrity Award, is the only celebrity to reach this milestone.
About Make-A-Wish America
Make-A-Wish® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. According to a 2011 U.S. study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed believe a wish-come-true can have positive impacts on the health of children. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illnesses, and their parents say these experiences help strengthen the entire family. Based in Phoenix, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and more than 25,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the country every 38 minutes. It has granted more than 212,000 wishes since its inception in 1980; nearly 14,000 in 2011 alone. Visit Make-A-Wish at wish.org.