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WebMD’s 2009 Health Heroes: Meet the Honorees

Scarlett Johansson, Childrens’ Champion

Looking at actress Scarlett Johansson lately, you would by no means know she knew starvation as a kid. But rising up in New York City, Johansson noticed her oldsters paintings exhausting to place meals on the desk. “We were a single-income family with four kids living in New York City,” she remembers. “My parents tried not to make a big deal of it, but I know it was a struggle for them.”

One manner Johansson’s oldsters coped was once through enrolling their youngsters in government-subsidized lunch methods at their public faculties. “It was the most practical thing for my parents,” Johansson says.”They could send us off and not worry.” So when Stan Curtis, who directs the nationwide meals charity USA Harvest, approached her about running with a brand new program that gives youngsters at school lunch methods with weekend meals, she jumped at the probability. Called Blessings in a Backpack, the program now donates food-filled backpacks to greater than 27,000 youngsters in additional than 100 U.S. faculties each Friday. “A lot of kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Johansson says. “For parents to have some relief and know their kids are fed for those extra two days of the week, it makes a huge difference.” (Read extra about Scarlett Johansson.)

Stan Curtis, Hunger Hero

Twenty-three years in the past, in a Louisville, Ky., cafeteria line, Stan Curtis watched a superbly excellent pan of inexperienced beans changed with a contemporary one after which thrown away and concept, “Gee, I wonder if homeless people would like those green beans.” With that, USA Harvest was once born. His concept was once easy: “We take food from people who have it and don’t need it and give it to people who want it and don’t have it,” Curtis explains. All meals is donated (USA Harvest operates without a annual price range) and delivered by way of teams — shelters, missions, soup kitchens — that lend a hand the much less lucky. Some five,300 businesses function in 130 towns throughout America, and with the lend a hand of 118,000 volunteers, two million foods are served every day.

To do much more for hungry youngsters, Curtis began Blessings in a Backpack, which distributes a weekend’s price of meals in backpacks each Friday to public faculty youngsters receiving federally funded foods. “The results are so astounding in terms of academics, self-esteem, attendance, and behavioral issues,” Curtis says of his program. Still, he notes, “I would love to be out of business. That would mean people in America are not hungry, our school children are being paid attention to, and they have enough food to get an education.”

Patricia Heaton / Mark Hyman, Healing Humor

Mark Hyman, MD, is the guardian of a kid with tuberous sclerosis — a situation that is affecting 50,000 other folks in the U.S. and reasons tumors to shape in the kidneys, eyes, mind, liver, and lungs, in addition to seizures, autism, and studying disabilities. As such, he desires to peer new analysis, higher medicine and, in the long run, a treatment — and he is aware of all 3 take cash. So seven years in the past, the Los Angeles-based doctor got here up with an concept that made him smile. “I launched Comedy for a Cure,” says Hyman, which takes position yearly in towns throughout the nation.

To make the match even funnier (and much more a success) Hyman enlisted his favourite affected person — humorous girl Patricia Heaton of Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle popularity. The actress was once MC at the Laugh Factory that first yr and has donated her time to the reason ever since. To date their efforts have raised $2.five million for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. Those budget have kick-started analysis for genetic checking out throughout being pregnant; backed a scientific trial for a brand new drug that can save you or even halt tumor expansion and seizures; and created the first nationwide TS database, which centralizes knowledge on TS sufferers. Progress like that is no comic story.

Zane Gates, MD, The Free MD

When Zane Gates, M.D., completed scientific faculty, he will have practiced anyplace. But he returned to his native land of Altoona, PA, as a result of he sought after to “pay a debt of gratitude” to the town and likewise apply his mom’s custom of neighborhood provider. His loose well being health center, Partnering for Health Services, permits him to do each. Ten years later, the health center supplies loose well being care to three,500 of Blair County’s running deficient every yr, due to an endowment through the Altoona Regional Health System and donations from the local people. “You can’t put a price on good, hard-working people,” Gates says. “Some of our patients say they’d be dead if we didn’t have this program.”

His type of care has attracted consideration: The Pennsylvania Senate will quickly vote on a invoice that may fund clinics very similar to Partnering for Health Services all over the state. But the excellent physician hasn’t stopped there. Kids ages four to 12 residing in two housing tasks (one during which he grew up) can now attend after-school methods that he created via a basis named after his mom, Gloria Gates. And as of October 2009, Blair County voters can buy a cheap hospital-only insurance coverage plan that Gates designed. His inspiration? “In this day and age, if my mother were living, she’d be one of the uninsured people in my clinic.”

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