USA NETWORK ANNOUNCES 2012 CHARACTERS UNITE AWARD WINNERS
Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Mediacom, Suddenlink and Time Warner Cable Recognize Winners
Honorees Acknowledged at Local Award Presentations Across the Country With $5,000 Grant; Featured on USA Network On-Air and Online
Continuing its highly successful multiplatform public service campaign to address social injustices and bridge cultural divides, USA Network, along with its distribution partners, today announced the 2012 recipients of the Characters Unite Awards. Ten winners were selected from hundreds of nominees for their extraordinary efforts in combating prejudice and discrimination while increasing tolerance and acceptance in their communities.
“Congratulations to this year’s Characters Unite Award winners who deserve to be recognized for their tireless work in fighting hate and discrimination and promoting acceptance in their communities,” said Bridget Baker, President, NBCUniversal TV Networks Distribution. “Along with our distribution partners, we salute these winners on the incredible efforts they lead.”
This summer, each honoree will be acknowledged during a hometown award ceremony and will receive a $5,000 grant from USA Network and participating local MVPDs to support his/her project or related nonprofit organization. Additionally, honorees will be featured on-air in a PSA and online at charactersunite.com.
Nominations for the Characters Unite Awards were submitted by the public on charactersunite.com during Characters Unite Month in February, a time when the network leverages all its platforms to shine a special spotlight on the importance of combating hate and intolerance.
2012 Characters Unite Award Recipients:
Phillip Ambrose, Davenport, IA (Mediacom)
Principal, Thurgood Marshall Learning Center
Phillip Ambrose is a Principal at the Thurgood Marshall Learning Center, an alternative school serving the Rock Island/Milan School District in Illinois. Under the leadership of Principal Ambrose, the school pursues and engages in compelling projects to increase awareness of diversity, tolerance and respect through innovative cross-curricular activities. Most recently, with the school’s Tuskegee Airmen Project, students studied how the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first squadron of African-American pilots, overcame prejudice to achieve their goal of fighting for their country. The next project the school plans to undertake is entitled Beyond the Dream; 50 years (1963-2013), which studies tolerance in America and the impact of significant events and people over the course of the last 50 years, from Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech to Barack Obama’s presidency.
Wade Carpenter, Park City, UT (Comcast)
Founder, Leaders for Life
Chief of Police Wade Carpenter developed an anti-bullying campaign entitled Leaders for Life with his associate, Peter Iacavazzi, after a young man attempted suicide in response to incessant bullying. Leaders for Life, which has been introduced into several schools, serves to educate and enlighten young men and women, teach them to celebrate their differences, protect one another, and to embrace love and friendship. Chief Carpenter also teamed with the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, Utah Sheriffs Association and local State Legislators to establish a legislative house bill that prevents bullying and hazing in elementary and secondary schools; the bill was passed by the 2011 State of Utah General Session.
Gabrielle Ford, Fenton, MI (Charter)
Disabilities and Anti-Bullying Advocate, Motivational Speaker and Author; Founder of Friends of Gabe & Izzy
As a child, Gabrielle loved dance and dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina. That dream was shattered by a rare genetic neuromuscular disease, Friedreich’s Ataxia, that would eventually place her in a wheelchair. Gabe not only struggled with the devastation of the illness, but also endured constant and cruel bullying from classmates. The constant torment took her on a path of depression and isolation. That all changed when Izzy, a long-eared coonhound pup, entered Gabe’s life. Izzy became Gabe’s best friend and constant companion. When this special friend mysteriously developed a condition mirroring Gabe’s, Gabe re-entered the world to get Izzy the best treatment available. Speaking out for the voiceless Izzy gave her the courage to speak out for another voiceless group: the thousands of children bullied in American schools every day. Through countless personal trials, Gabe found her way back to the stage as an outspoken advocate against school bullying and has been encouraging and inspiring children all across the country by sharing her story during the last 11 years. www.gabeandizzy.com
Helen Greenspun, Longwood, FL (Bright House Networks)
Holocaust Survivor, Speaker and Advocate
Helen Greenspun has dedicated her life to teaching future generations about the atrocities of the Holocaust. Helen, born in Chmielnik, Poland in 1926, survived two labor camps and five concentration camps. She lost her parents and two youngest siblings in Treblinka and was reunited with her four other siblings who survived after the war. Instead of trying to forget the horror and suffering experienced, Helen decided to share her story and speaks frequently to local students, teachers and community organizations to raise awareness and to be a voice for those who did not survive. Helen also is on the board of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida, an organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice with the ultimate goal of developing a moral and just community through its extensive outreach of educational and cultural programs.
Wanda Jacobsen, Monroe, NY (Cablevision)
Founder, Kindness Above Malice
Bullying has had a tragic effect on the Jacobsen family. In the course of one year, Wanda Jacobsen’s 14-year-old son Kameron took his own life after being relentlessly bullied and then she lost her husband in the wake of that tragedy. Determined to help prevent other families enduring the same horrific nightmare, she has been a tireless and passionate advocate for bullying prevention measures in New York State and around the country. She co-founded the anti-bullying charitable organization, Kindness Above Malice, and continues to use her voice to help raise awareness of the importance of safe schools and communities. She also is the proud parent of Kevin, Jr., 24, and Kiersten, 21.
Alison K. Malmon, Washington, DC
Founder and Executive Director, Active Minds
Alison K. Malmon is founder and Executive Director of Active Minds, Inc., the leading national organization that uses students as the driving force to change the perception about mental health on college campuses. Alison founded the organization following the suicide of her 22-year-old year old brother, Brian, her only sibling. Wanting to combat the stigma that had caused her brother to suffer in silence and ultimately take his own life, she created the group on her campus at the University of Pennsylvania to promote an open, enlightened dialogue around the issues. Shortly after graduation in 2003, Alison developed chapters of Active Minds on campuses around the country to expand and continue this dialogue. She has since served as Executive Director of the non-profit organization, engaging thousands of students nationwide and promoting a unified national voice for young adults in the promotion of mental health awareness and prevention of suicide.
Chantel Miller, Greenville, NC (Suddenlink)
Student and Advocate
Chantel Miller is a junior majoring in Anthropology at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. Inspired by her friends who have faced hate and discrimination because of their race and sexual orientation, she created a photo documentary project to raise awareness of issues of intolerance and to share people’s stories in a unique, creative and engaging way through photography. Chantel hopes to raise money with her photo projects to help her friends and others facing bigotry pay for their college educations. Although the project is in its early stages, she hopes to one day provide scholarships for those in need through the sales of her art.
Kahina Parrish, Las Vegas, NV (Cox Communications)
Counselor, May Elementary School
In her role as counselor at May Elementary School, Kahina Parrish has been the driving force behind several programs designed to raise awareness of many important topics, such as bullying and diversity. From planning several anti-bullying assemblies to coordinating an extraordinary line-up of guests to speak to students on a regular basis, to delivering ongoing presentations about compassion and kindness, Kahina has worked tirelessly with her students, school, staff, parents and community members to unite people and promote acceptance and respect. She is an example of the positive impact one person can have on a community.
Timothy Porter, Cibolo, TX (Time Warner Cable)
CEO of Appddiction Studio
Timothy Porter is the CEO and Founder of Appddiction Studio, a company specializing in smartphone application development, which recently launched a mobile app to help students and schools stand up to bullies. The app, entitled StopBullies, allows bullying victims and bystanders to anonymously alert school administrators to bullying activity. In addition to its reporting features, the application also provides helpful information and resources about bullying, such as warning signs and where to find help. The app also tackles cyberbullying; if a student is being harassed online, they can take a screenshot of the messages or photos they have received to send to administrators. With this app, Timothy has devised an innovative method to harness the power of technology to combat the scourge of bullying.
Patrick Wallace, San Diego, CA
Co-Founder and Executive Director, A Note to My Kid
Patrick Wallace conceived the idea of A Note to My Kid (www.anotetomykid.com) and brought it to fruition with Co-founders Michael Volpatt and Mike Curry in May 2011. This growing grassroots movement, which is designed to bring a little more love into people’s lives, gives the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LBGTQ) community, their parents, families and friends, the opportunity to share the unconditional love they have for one another. On the site, people can submit notes, videos or captioned photos that communicate their unique stories of unconditional love. A Note to My Kid also serves as a resource for people who may not know how to broach the subject of sexual orientation by giving them the opportunity to learn from the examples of others. A year after its launch, A Note to My Kid has sparked an international grassroots movement by giving people the opportunity to share and receive the unconditional love they deserve.