2015 health heroes winners
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A Night for Heroes

An advocate. A scientist. A celebrity. A prodigy. Each of them saw a problem affecting the health of others and took action to solve it. WebMD honored the work of these four people at the second Health Hero Awards gala in New York City. The red carpet, stars, and inspiring stories all made it a night to remember.

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robin roberts
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Host: Robin Roberts

The Good Morning America co-anchor said she was "thrilled" to host the Health Heroes gala for her second year. Each of the winners shows "the simple, magnificent power of the human spirit," she said. "I hope their stories inspire each of us to engage our own inner hero to act."

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glenn close at accepts award
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People's Choice Award: Glenn Close

The award-winning actress is working to erase the stigma that people with mental illness often face. Inspired by her sister's struggle with bipolar disorder, she founded the group Bring Change 2 Mind. It uses public awareness campaigns and student programs to help people be more open about mental health. "I want to give people the strength and the support to talk about it," Close said. WebMD readers voted her the People's Choice Health Hero for 2015.

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jake clark accepts award
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Advocate: Ronald "Jake" Clark

Thousands of American veterans survive war only to come home and take their own lives. That is simply unacceptable to this former soldier. He founded Save A Warrior, a weeklong "war detox" program that gives veterans and first responders tools to fight back against post-traumatic stress. So far, it's helped hundreds of people. Clark said the award inspires him to keep standing up for these heroes. "We will be the difference so that others might live."

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kenneth shinozuka accepts award
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Prodigy: Kenneth Shinozuka

This California teen wanted to protect people with dementia, like his grandfather, from wandering and falling. So he created a small sensor that knows when a person steps out of bed during the night. The device, called SafeWander, alerts a caregiver through a smartphone app. The 17-year-old said he was "flattered" to receive the award, but "I am not a hero." Instead, he honored the millions of people with dementia and their caregivers. He hopes to one day find a cure for Alzheimer's.

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dr bennet omalu
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Scientist: Bennet Omalu, MD

The forensic pathologist found the first hard proof that head trauma from playing football can cause lasting brain damage. Despite the NFL's efforts to deny it, dozens of former players have since turned out to have the disease, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Omalu said he hopes learning the truth about the risks will change people's minds about high-impact sports. "With a little courage, with a little hope, with a little vision, no matter how small, we can do unimaginable things, only if you believe."

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seth rogan presents to shinozuka
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Presenter: Seth Rogen

You might think there's nothing funny about Alzheimer's disease, but this comedy superstar uses humor as a weapon against it. Saying he was "completely blown away" by the teen's hard work, he presented the Prodigy award to Kenneth Shinozuka. "If I was more confident and cooler in high school, I could literally be your father. Which is horrifying but kind of cool to think," Rogen said. The actor and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, founded Hilarity for Charity to raise money and awareness to end Alzheimer's.

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kevin lacz presents award
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Presenter: Kevin Lacz

The former Navy SEAL and combat medic played himself in the movie American Sniper and also served as a technical advisor for the film. He presented the Advocate award, calling Jake Clark "a true American hero" for his work in helping fellow veterans.

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harry carson and dr bennet omalu
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Presenter: Harry Carson

For this former linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Fame member, presenting the Scientist award to Bennett Omalu, MD, hit home. Carson has worked to shine a light on the link between concussions and brain disease among athletes and combat veterans. Omalu's findings, Carson said, caused the NFL to make stricter rules to limit head injuries, "which has transformed the way the game is now played."

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glenn close and jesse close
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Presenter: Jessie Close

It was only right that Jessie presented the People's Choice award to her big sister, Glenn. When bipolar disorder brought her close to suicide, "it was Glenn and our mother who saved my life," she said. Jessie and her son, Calen, were the inspiration for Glenn's work against the stigma of mental illness. Together, they travel across the country to raise awareness about the problem.

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fran drescher
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Presenter: Fran Drescher

Before the award-winning actress introduced musical guest Amos Lee, she joked about her 2-year battle with the health care system to get a diagnosis of uterine cancer. "I know a thing or two about doctors, and not in the way my mother always hoped." Her group, Cancer Schmancer, promotes early detection of the disease.

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broadway boys perform
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Musical Guest: The Broadway Boys

The talented group, whose members perform in shows currently on stages around New York City, kicked off the evening with -- what else -- a rousing version of "Heroes."

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mary mcbride performs
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Musical Guest: Mary McBride

The singer lit up the room with her unique vocal style. As a cultural envoy for the U.S. Department of State, she's played in more than 20 countries since 2011. She also founded the Home Tour, which brings the power of live music to places that don't usually hear it, including homeless shelters, prisons, and long-term care centers.

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amos lee performs
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Musical Guest: Amos Lee

The singer-songwriter performed his hits "Violin" and "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight" along with Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come."

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 11/13/2021 Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on November 13, 2021


1)       Jemal Countess / Getty
2)       Darbe Rotach / Medscape
3)       Darbe Rotach / Medscape
4)       Darbe Rotach / Medscape
5)       Darbe Rotach / Medscape
6)       Darbe Rotach / Medscape
7)       Darbe Rotach / Medscape
8)       Darbe Rotach / Medscape
9)       Darbe Rotach / Medscape
10)     Getty
11)     Darbe Rotach / Medscape
12)     Bennett Raglin / Getty
13)     Darbe Rotach / Medscape
14)     Bryan Bedder /Getty     



Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on November 13, 2021

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.