Recognizing Special Arthritis Foundation Volunteers in 2021
The Arthritis Foundation’s Conference of Champions — an annual gathering of volunteers, partners and other supporters — was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. But we thought it was very important to recognize some phenomenal achievements in the past year, despite the challenges everyone faced. So, belatedly, we held our 2020 Evening of Honors ceremony on Jan. 15, 2021 — live, virtually, online.
Our dear friend Pete Scalia hosted the event, where we highlighted several major accomplishments, like exceeding our fundraising goal despite the pandemic; continuing to provide the resources people with arthritis need; and making impressive progress in advocacy and research.
We saluted our 2020 recipient of the $10,000 Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize for Arthritis Science Service: David Felson, MD, MPH.
This is the second time Dr. Felson has been honored with this prize. Over the years with our funding support, he and his team have uncovered new discoveries to help make osteoarthritis a treatable disease and to enhance clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis treatments. Dr. Felson is working closely with the FDA on measures to gauge the efficacy of new drugs.
Champion Awards were presented to three individuals who stood out for their spectacular support of the Arthritis Foundation’s work.
We recognized Robert Kimble for his exceptional volunteer service over the past 20 years. Rob took charge of the 2020 Commitment to a Cure Gala in Connecticut, making it among the nation’s top Arthritis Foundation marquee fundraisers in the virtual world.
Linda Grandolfo has passionately volunteered for the Arthritis Foundation for over 15 years. She got involved through Alpha Omicron Pi, a women’s fraternity long dedicated to our mission. Linda has kept our work going strong in the greater Chicago area.
Dr. Thomas Rennie is a devoted rheumatologist in South Texas. He joined our movement over 10 years ago. In 2020, he came up with the idea of the Jingle Bell Run Drive-Through, which raised nearly $80,000 in sponsorships and donations.
We recognized 10 partners with our Corporate Impact Award. These faithful honorees provided emergency funding during the pandemic to keep us going strong: AbbVie, Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, CBD Medic, Genentech, Gilead, Janssen, Mallinckrodt, Novartis and Pfizer.
The online celebration ended by revealing the 2020 recipient of the Charles B. Harding Award for Distinguished Service — the Arthritis Foundation’s highest volunteer recognition each year. Our new Harding Award goes to Steve Smith.
For over two decades, Steve (along with his wife Liz) has been the lighthouse we’ve all needed. He’s been a beacon of hope, personally helping so many juvenile arthritis families navigate their own journey. He has served in numerous Arthritis Foundation leadership roles, extending way beyond his JA involvement.
Thank you to all our loyal volunteers, patient partners, sponsors and other supporters nationwide. The 2020 Evening of Honors — which we celebrated online in the New Year — saluted the best of the best. Our sights are set on making 2021 even better!