OAK BROOK, IL--(Marketwire - Oct 29, 2012) - In honor of individuals who have made outstanding contributions to improve the health and wellbeing of children, Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) hosted its 28th Annual Awards of Excellence celebration on Saturday, October 27, in Rosemont, Ill. 

The annual event presented three Awards of Excellence to individuals selected from across the globe. A grant of $100,000 was awarded in honor of the recipients to nonprofit organizations selected by the awardees. The 2012 RMHC Awards of Excellence award winners are:

  • Jamie Lee Curtis. While Curtis may be best known as an actress and best-selling children's book author, she is also a passionate advocate for children. Believing that when children are fighting for their lives, they need the support of the entire community to help them heal, Curtis has dedicated her time and energy to several organizations supporting the critical needs of children including the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation and Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Her contributions range from being a member of the CHLA Board of Trustees, to spokesperson for CHLA public service ads, to raising money to place video players in hospital rooms to help children endure painful treatments. Curtis accepted the RMHC Award of Excellence wearing a pink wig given to her by Katie Westbrook, a little girl battling bone cancer that Curtis met while raising money for Children's Hospital Pittsburgh. Katie lost her battle with cancer, but Curtis wears the wig to remind others of the children who are fighting for their lives and need a community of support.
  • Michael Harrison, M.D. Lauded as the "Father of Fetal Surgery," Dr. Harrison is internationally renowned for his expertise and innovation in surgeries to treating complex birth defects before and after birth. He is a professor of surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences. Dr. Harrison was one of the original founders of the International Fetal Medicine and Surgery Society (IFMSS), the Founder and now Director-Emeritus of the University of California, San Francisco Fetal Treatment Center, and is currently the Director of the UCSF Pediatric Device Consortium where he leads a multidisciplinary team and maintains an active research lab. For the last 30 years Dr. Harrison can be found conducting weekly roundtables with cross functional teams seeking to find better solutions to improve the outcomes of children who have been diagnosed with birth defects. He has trained 74 postdoctoral fellows which has led to saving thousands of children's lives with surgical procedures before birth. He is the recipient of one of only three FDA Pediatric Device Consortia grants awarded this past year under the Federal Recovery Act. For his lifetime of exceptional achievements, RMHC honored Dr. Harrison with the RMHC Medical Award of Excellence.
  • Woods Staton. Staton, the chief executive officer and chairman of the Board of Directors of Arcos Dorados, the largest McDonald's® franchise in the world, was honored with the Gerry Newman McTLC Award of Excellence for his leadership in supporting children and families in Latin America. Named in honor of longtime McDonald's executive Gerry Newman, and the founding board member of RMHC, the McTLC Award of Excellence recognizes individuals within the McDonald's system who leverage their resources to give back and directly impact the health and wellbeing of children. The spirit of entrepreneurship and leadership that has helped Staton build a successful business also guided this dynamic CEO to focus on helping those in need. When he realized the positive impact RMHC had on children and families, Woods decided to invest in the organization's vision to make the Charity the most recognized institution in the region for healthcare support of children and adolescents. Today, as the founder and president of RMHC Argentina, Staton ensures support for RMHC is part of Arcos Dorados' DNA. From motivating employees to volunteer their time and talent, to generating awareness and recognition for the Latin American Chapters, to making generous donations, he has helped the vision become a reality.

McDonald's in Latin America leads the world in the implementation of McHappy Day®, McDonald's global fundraiser for RMHC. Last year alone, McHappy Day raised nearly 15 million dollars for RMHC. "We are thrilled to recognize these extraordinary individuals for their ongoing contributions to children," said Marty Coyne, president and CEO of RMHC. "Like RMHC, these award recipients are dedicated to being part of the solution in providing access to care for children so they can lead fulfilling and productive lives."

In addition to honoring these outstanding individuals, the 2012 Awards of Excellence celebration included a dinner, entertainment by Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe Awards nominated artist Matthew Morrison from Glee. A live and silent auction also took place throughout the evening. The event raised $3.2 million to help RMHC provide stability and vital resources to families in need.

Past RMHC Awards of Excellence Recipients

Past RMHC Awards of Excellence Recipients have included: former Mayor Richard M. Daley and Maggie Daley (2011); founder of Southwest Airlines, Herbert D. Kelleher (2010); seven-time NBA All-Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and founder of Alonzo Mourning Charities, Alonzo Mourning (2009); entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Peter and Ginny Ueberroth (2008); actress, producer, social activist and national outreach director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Marlo Thomas (2007); NCAA championship basketball coach and youth mentor, John Wooden (2006); the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps with actor Paul Newman accepting on their behalf (2005); actor, director and humanitarian, Danny Glover (2004); renowned pediatric surgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson (2003); Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan (2002); tennis star Andrea Jaeger (2001); performer and humanitarian, Harry Belafonte (2000); wife of McDonald's Corporation founder Ray A. Kroc, the late Joan Kroc (1999); Betty Ford, former First Lady (1998); Retired U.S. Army General, Colin Powell (1997); acclaimed theologian, Henri J. M. Nouwen (1996); former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Antonia Novello (1995); Barbara Bush, former First Lady (1994); the late Fred Rogers (1993); Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1992); former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter (1991); and the late Jim Henson (1990), among others.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities

Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®), a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) corporation, creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. Through its global network of local Chapters in 57 countries and regions, its three core programs, the Ronald McDonald House®, Ronald McDonald Family Room® and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®, and millions of dollars in grants to support children's programs worldwide, RMHC provides stability and resources to families so they can get and keep their children healthy and happy. All RMHC-supported programs provide a bridge to quality health care and give children and families the time they need together to heal faster and cope better. For more information, visit www.rmhc.org, follow us on Twitter (@RMHC) or like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/RMHC Global).

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The following trademarks used herein are owned by McDonald's Corporation and its affiliates: Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities Logo, RMHC, Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room, and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. 

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Clara Carrier