Dr. Anthony Fauci and the athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick may seem like very different men in very different fields — but they are both being honored with the same award. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Kaepernick, a former NFL player who has led players’ demonstrations against racial injustice, will receive the RFK Ripple of Hope Award this year.
As director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Fauci has has grappled with major public health crises, including the AIDS epidemic, Zika, Ebola and now COVID-19. He is also the recipient of the the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President George W. Bush in 2008.
“Dr. Fauci has advised six presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues and was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world,” RFK Human Rights said in a press release.
Fauci is a member of the White House coronavirus task force and has become a trusted public source of guidance and information during the pandemic — though he has sometimes faced criticism from members of the Trump administration and even the president himself.
Kaepernick made headlines In 2016 when, as the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, he began kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against police brutality and racial injustice. Many professional athletes around the sports world have since engaged in similar actions.
Kaepernick is also co-founder of Know Your Rights Camp, which aims “to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.”
In a statement about the award, Kaepernick said: “In 2017, I was in the audience honoring Mr. Harry Belafonte as he accepted the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award. I am humbled to follow the footsteps of individuals like Mr. B and to be in the company of all the other laureates. Thank you for this prestigious award.”
The award, presented by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights nonprofit, honors leaders “who have demonstrated a commitment to social change and reflect Robert Kennedy’s passion for equality, justice, basic human rights, and his belief that each of us can make a difference.”
Past recipients include former President Barack Obama, former Vice President and current 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, Congressman John Lewis, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Robert De Niro and Hillary Clinton.
In addition to Fauci and Kaepernick, the 2020 Ripple of Hope Laureates also include civil rights and labor activist Dolores Huerta, founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and co-founder of United Farm Workers of America; Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal; and Dan Springer, CEO of DocuSign.
The 52nd annual Ripple of Hope Award Gala will be held virtually on Thursday, December 10, 2020, the group said.
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