Second Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards Showcases International Humanitarians and Impact Muhammad Ali Has on Worldwide Causes

"The Champ" was in attendance to witness the greatness of diverse group of honorees

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Sept. 29, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The second annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards presented by YUM! Brands Foundation took place this evening at the Louisville Downtown Marriott. The event was created to celebrate the greatness of people from around the world who are making differences in their communities and beyond. In addition to awards given to seasoned humanitarians, six young people, 30 years and younger, were honored with an award for each of Muhammad's Six Core Principles: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality.

"The Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards personify what the Ali Center stands for," said Lonnie Ali, Vice Chair of the Ali Center. "Tonight, we honored some exceptional humanitarians who are demonstrating that one person's conscious actions can effectively change the lives of many, and ultimately transform the world. We hope the Ali Humanitarian Awards continue to inspire young people to be great and do great things. It was a privilege to be among these great humanitarians who are tomorrow's hope."

Recipients of the 2014 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards included: former NFL star, social justice activist, and actor Jim Brown; international humanitarian and entrepreneur, Mick Ebeling; Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon; musician, poet, and activist Common; six young adults (age 30 and under), and Kentucky humanitarians, Robert and Deborah Blair.

Jim Brown was presented with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Lifetime Achievement Award. Jim Brown is known worldwide for his Hall of Fame football exploits as a running back for the NFL's Cleveland Browns. He boldly stood up for civil rights at a time it was not a cool thing to do, and fought for equality and against injustice with necessitated courage and uncompromising integrity. It was Jim Brown who rallied the premiere athletes of the 1960s to support Muhammad Ali's right to conscientiously object to service in the Vietnam War. Brown founded the Amer-I-Can Life Management Skills program in 1988, a program that has changed and saved thousands of lives.

Mick Ebeling was named Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year for his work as founder and CEO of Not Impossible, LLC, an organization that develops creative solutions to real-world problems. Impossible's latest endeavor, Project Daniel, is the subject of Intel's latest Look Inside campaign. For Project Daniel, Ebeling flew to Sudan to 3D-print and fit prosthetic limbs for children of the war-torn region, then left the equipment behind with locals he'd trained who continued after he left, thus establishing the world's first 3D printing prosthetic lab and training facility. Mick also created the Eyewriter: a DIY, open-source, low-cost device that enables individuals with paralysis to communicate and create art using only the movement of their eyes.

Susan Sarandon was honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Global Citizenship. The Academy-Award winning actress and social and economic activist's charitable work includes serving as an ambassador for UNICEF, on the board of advisors for the Yéle Haiti Foundation, and on the Advisory Committee for FilmAid International. She also has served on the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) Board of Directors and is now on their Advisory Board. Susan was Action Against Hunger's award recipient at the "Restaurants Against Hunger Campaign" gala in 2006, in honor of World Food Day.

Common was presented the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Education. Common, who is a multiple Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist, poet, and guest speaker known to motivate and empower collegiate minds at prestigious universities across the country. In 2000, he launched his own philanthropic effort, The Common Ground Foundation, whose mission is dedicated to the empowerment and development of disadvantaged youth in urban communities by mentoring in three areas: character development, creative expression and healthy living.

This year's Muhammad Ali Kentucky Humanitarian Award went to Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Deborah Blair, founders of the West End School in Louisville.
West End School is a free, private, college preparatory, Pre-K through Eighth school for young men. West End School strives to address all of the issues boys in the community face by creating an environment of high expectations and personal responsibility. Through the School's rigorous academic and personal standards, students are encouraged to attain the highest possible level of scholarship, character, and intellectual growth.

Jessica Matthews, age 26 of New York, USA, was honored for her Confidence in her role with Unchartered Play. Uncharted Play is an organization that creates toys to generate electricity.  She has developed a soccer ball, "Soccket," that generates 3 hours of electricity from 30 minutes of play.  Her company, a social enterprise, also offers the "Pulse" jump rope that generates 6 hours of energy from 15 minutes of play.  A graduate of Harvard University, Ms. Matthews has used her creativity and talent to directly address access to electricity for people in the developing world.

Mario Andrés Hurtado Cordazo, age 22 of Colombia, was recognized for his Conviction with Acción Colectiva de Objetores y Objetoras de Conciencia Cordazo's organization promotes the right to be a conscientious objector in one of the most militarized countries in the world, while generating life-affirming, creative, nonviolent collective actions to promote peace and social justice.

Kennedy Odede, age 29 of Kenya, received the Dedication honor for his Work with Shining Hope for Communities. Kennedy is the president and CEO of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). SHOFCO's current programming comprises a school for girls, a free health clinic, a micro-loan and micro-savings program, sanitation and clean water services, and a program to combat gender‐based violence and promote sexual health of young people in the community. Kennedy founded SHOFCO with nothing more than a soccer ball and his "faith in people's abilities to change their own lives."

Talia Leman, age 19 from Iowa, USA was honored with the Giving Award for her role with RandomKid . As the CEO and a Founder of RandomKid, Talia develops ideas, strategies and networks between kids internationally to increase their impact. She also leads "power" assemblies, doles out seed funds to help jumpstart philanthropic ventures, organizes web-conferences between youth across the globe, and mentors her peers in success strategies for achieving their goals to benefit others. Having been appointed UNICEF's first known National Youth Ambassador, Talia has worked with kids from 20 countries and together these kids have reported close to 11 million dollars through RandomKid-guided initiatives.

Sejal Hathi, 23 from California, was the recipient of the Respect Award to recognize her work with girltank, S2 Capital An avid social entrepreneur, Sejal founded both the nonprofit Girls Helping Girls at age 15, and the social enterprise girltank at age 19, dedicated to socially and economically empowering young women globally. Over the last few years, these organizations trained and mobilized 32,000 young women change makers in 104 countries to design sustainable social change. Sejal is also a Founding Partner at S2 Capital, an early-stage fund that invests equity and debt in young entrepreneurs in the developing world.

Mastura Rashid, age 24 of Malaysia, was honored with the Spirituality Award.  Rashid is the founder and project manager of the Nasi Lemak Project , a community service project she initiated in 2011. The Nasi Lemak Project is a young, independent and effective movement to counter urban poverty in Malaysia. The Nasi Lemak Project gained traction and momentum when Rashid was one of the few who received funding from the office of Special Representative of Muslim Communities under their Generation Change Grant. The Nasi Lemak Project mechanism in eradicating urban poverty is done through these three main areas: feeding program, education, and rendering assistance.
"The incredible efforts of the humanitarians who were honored this year serve as a testament to the fact that one person can change the world. Muhammad Ali is a living example of that statement. It is our hope that these awards create a catalyst in younger generations to get out and make a difference," said Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center.

Presenters at the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards included:

  • Lonnie Ali (Co-founder of the Muhammad Ali Center)
  • Brad Montague and Robby Novak (Co-creators of Kid President)
  • Holly Robinson-Peete (actress)
  • Father George Kilcourse (Bellarmine University)
  • William Mapother (actor, co-founder of Slated)
  • Dr. Pearse Lyons (Alltech founder)
  • Donald Lassere (Ali Center CEO)
  • Congressman John Yarmuth (D3-Kentucky)
  • Pamela Brown (CNN Justice Correspondent)

Matt Lauer, host of NBC's Today Show, hosted this evening's event.

Special recognition was bestowed upon Azucena Chamberlain, a Spanish teacher for the Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) system, who volunteers her time as an after-school flamenco instructor at two JCPS elementary schools.

Gabriel (Gabe The Cake Man) and Olivia (Livvy) Feinn were also recognized. These siblings have been working together to raise $35,000 to build a hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by baking cakes and cupcakes for those who donate to their cause.

The physical awards presented to honorees are handmade by Louisville's own Flame Run Glass Studio and Gallery. This was the second year that Flame Run has created these distinguished works of art, which feature Muhammad Ali's thumbprint.

Sponsors of the second annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards include:

Presenting Sponsor
The Yum! Brands Foundation

Silver Sponsors
Brown-Forman Corporation
Horseshoe Southern Indiana

Bronze Sponsors
LG &E KU Energy
Ashbourne Farms
River Bend Farm
Tandem Public Relations & Marketing
The Harold C. Schott Foundation

When sharing photos of the second annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards, please use #AliAwards.

A reunion of the athletes present at the June 4, 1967 Cleveland Summit took place Saturday afternoon at the Muhammad Ali Center, prior to the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards. The original meeting was called so that a group of well-known 1960s athletes could evaluate how serious Muhammad Ali was as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. Ali's response to this group would determine whether or not they would stand behind him and his controversial decision.

The Ali Center is located at 144 North Sixth Street in downtown Louisville. Parking is available on side streets or in the PARC garage located below the Ali Center.  For questions, please call 502.584.9254 or visit

About the Muhammad Ali Center

The Muhammad Ali Center, a 501(c)3 corporation, was co-founded by Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The international cultural center promotes the Six Core Principles of Muhammad Ali (Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality) in ways that inspire personal and global greatness and provides programming and events around the focus areas of education, gender equity, and global citizenship. Its newest initiative, Generation Ali, fosters a new generation of leaders to contribute positively to their communities and to change the world for the better. The Center's headquarters also contains an award-winning museum experience. For more information, please visit

EDITORS NOTE:  Photos are available upon request.

Photos accompanying this release are available at:

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