Star-studded virtual event to include Bryan Cranston, Ben and Erin Napier, Gerald McRaney, Jocko Sims, and Aisha Tyler
Washington, DC (October 11, 2021)— The Elizabeth Dole Foundation announces actor, humanitarian, and founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation, Gary Sinise as the 2021 recipient of the Tom Hanks Caregiver Champion Award in recognition of his outstanding support of military caregivers. Lee Greenwood was selected to receive the Foundation’s Caregiver Ally Award. The awards will be presented at the Foundation’s fourth annual Heroes and History Makers, streamed online on October 28 at 8:00 p.m. ET, and co-hosted by actor and Hidden Heroes Campaign Chair Tom Hanks and TODAY co-anchor and Hidden Heroes Ambassador Savannah Guthrie. The special event is made possible with the support of presenting sponsor, USAA.
The event is the Foundation’s annual tribute to America’s 5.5 million military caregivers, the loved ones who voluntarily care for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans at home. Senator Elizabeth Dole will be joined by celebrities Bryan Cranston, Ben and Erin Napier, Gerald McRaney, Jocko Sims, and Aisha Tyler to tell the powerful and inspiring stories of these hidden heroes.
The Caregiver Champion Award was named for Tom Hanks for his outstanding support of military caregivers. The award has previously been presented to former First Lady Michelle Obama and music superstar Tim McGraw. Sinise was selected for the recognition for his decades-long advocacy for those who serve and their families. In 2011, he established the Gary Sinise Foundation to provide this community a broad collection of critical services and support. The Foundation’s initiatives include the R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program, providing severely wounded heroes and their families 100% mortgage-free specially adapted smart homes, as well as home modifications, mobility devices, and adapted vehicles for injured, wounded, ill, and aging heroes. In addition, it’s Relief & Resiliency program offers comprehensive support to heroes and their families in times of need, including mental health services, opportunities for family bonding, financial support, and entertainment.
“We are thrilled to honor Gary Sinise as part of this special evening recognizing America’s hidden heroes and those who support them,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “Gary has rightly become one of the most well-known and respected advocates for the military community, and we are grateful for his commitment to our nation’s hidden heroes.”
Greenwood will be the first recipient of the Foundation’s Caregiver Ally Award. The country music icon has been a lifelong supporter of the military community. Since the release of his song “God Bless the U.S.A.” in 1984, he has inspired a patriotic spirit and sense of appreciation for those who serve among countless Americans across multiple generations. Greenwood has been a mainstay at USO shows and has served as an ambassador for Disabled American Veterans and Helping a Hero.
Heroes and History Makers is a free, online event open to the public. Registration information and streaming details for the event can be found here.
The following organizations joined USAA in generously supporting this event: The Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation, Cerner, Comcast NBCUniversal, Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, Prudential, TriWest, Wounded Warrior Project, AARP, American Airlines, Booz Allen Hamilton, Philips, Pritzker Military Museum & Library, Wells Fargo, Jacqueline Badger Mars, FedEx, Coca-Cola, FTC, Humana Military, Modern Technology Solutions, Inc., Accenture, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Bob and Candy Scherer, Disabled American Veterans, Home Instead Senior Care, Hamilton Place Strategies, KPMG, Magellan Federal, Microhealth, Mida Associates, National Government Services, OptumServe, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Clark Construction, Clarus Group, Cohen Veterans Network, Jim and Linda Beers, Program Management Solutions, Signature Performance, Phil and Peg Soucy, Thorn Partners, Kerry and Becky Tymchuk, Jenna and Lorah Dorn.
About Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Hidden Heroes
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers – the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill or injured veterans at home. Founded by Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2012, the Foundation adopts a comprehensive approach in its support and advocacy, working with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and faith communities to recognize military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being. Learn more about the Elizabeth Dole Foundation at www.hiddenheroes.org.
About Gary Sinise
For 40 years, award-winning actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise has stood as an advocate on behalf of America’s defenders. He began in the early ’80s, supporting local Vietnam Veterans’ groups in the Chicago area, and continued into the ’90s, when his portrayal of “Lt. Dan” in Forrest Gump formed an enduring connection with service members throughout the military community. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Sinise’s dedication to our nation’s active-duty service members, Veterans, first responders, and their families who sacrifice alongside them, became a tireless crusade of support and gratitude for all those who protect our freedom and serve our country.
In recognition of his humanitarian work on behalf of our troops and veterans, Sinise has earned many distinguished awards including The Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Medal of Honor Society, the Spirit of the USO Award, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from the National Defense Industrial Association and West Point’s Thayer Award. In 2008 he was given the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation, only the third actor ever to receive this honor.
In 2011, to expand upon his individual efforts, he established the Gary Sinise Foundation with the mission to “always do a little more” for our those who serve. Its programs—designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities—serve America’s heroes and their loved ones 365 days a year. To learn more about all the programs offered by the Gary Sinise Foundation, visit www.garysinisefoundation.org/programs.
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