WebMD hosted its first live event to celebrate its annual Health Heroes awards last night, and Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz was among the winners, accepting a 2014 Health Hero award for his activism on behalf of children with psychiatric and learning disorders.
The evening was hosted by an ebullient Robin Roberts, the Good Morning America co-host, who responded to a standing ovation by saying, “You make it worth staying up past my bedtime!” The Health Heroes winners included Michael J. Fox, Martha Stewart, the Cleveland Clinic’s Frank Papay, Zarin Rahman, and Carson Daly.
In accepting his statuette, which was presented by TV personality Beth Stern, Dr. Koplewicz quipped, “How awesome! It looks like an Oscar and it’s from Howard Stern’s wife.”
Getting serious, Dr. Koplewicz noted that the people he perceives as real heroes in his work are the children themselves. “When I think about the children and adolescents who struggle with psychiatric or learning disorders, it’s hard to feel like a hero,” he said. “Kids with depression or social anxiety or dyslexia or ADHD often have to fight so hard every day to do things the rest of us take for granted. That’s courage—that’s heroism.”
Dr. Koplewicz challenged the notion that mental illness is a character flaw. “Psychiatric and learning disorders aren’t caused by weakness, but they are overcome by strength,” he said. He thanked WebMD for the award, which comes with a $10,000 donation to the Child Mind Institute. “Together we can get more kids the help that can literally change lives.” (Click here to see the video WebMD presented about Dr. Koplewicz and the Child Mind Insititute.)
Michael J. Fox was given the Hall of Fame award for his work on Parkinson’s research and advocacy. Martha Stewart was recognized for opening the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai Hospital, to provide holistic heath care for seniors. Frank Papay was cited for pioneering a new surgical approach to treat cluster and migraine headaches. Zarin Rahman, a Harvard student, was recognized for her study, as a high schooler, of the effects of computer and cellphone use on teens’ sleep, mood, and academic performance. And Carson Daly was cited for the Shine a Light program that involves school children in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in gardening.
In a video interview with Robin Roberts, Fox said he doesn’t see himself as a hero.
“At a time when people are putting their lives on the line particularly for country and for freedom—those are heroes,” Fox said. He said he shared the award “with my fellow patients, and with the countless researchers who’ve jumped on board and are dedicating their careers to that mission.”