Michael J. Fox Received Honorary Oscar for Parkinson’s Disease Advocacy & Research

The Back to the Future alum received an honorary Oscar at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 13th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 19.

According to Fox News, “Fox was presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his advocacy work surrounding Parkinson’s disease. Fox famously founded the non-profit Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000, which focuses on finding a cure for the disease from which Fox suffers.”

The 61-year-old actor was presented the award by his good friend and fellow actor, Woody Harrelson.

“Michael J. Fox sets the ultimate example of how to fight and how to live. And today, he is as beloved for his activism as he is for his acting,” Harrelson said in his speech.

“Michael J. Fox never asked for the role: Parkinson’s patient or disease advocate. But make no mistake, it is his greatest performance,” The True Detective actor continued. 

“Michael brought the world to the same place where we all feel invested in finding a cure for a cruel disease. Vulnerable: yes. A victim: never. An inspiration: always. And a living, breathing symbol and singular voice to help advance progress toward a cure.”

As he received the award, The Family Ties actor appeared really humbled and grateful and said Parkinson’s had been a ‘gift’ to him.

“It was a gift, as my friend George Stephanopoulos pointed out in a film,” he said in his speech. “I refer to Parkinson’s as the gift that keeps on taking. But it truly has been a gift.”

“Once I became engaged in learning about the disease, every interaction, every new piece of information I gathered, every researcher or NIH official I talked to, all confirmed the science was ahead of the money. The answers could be unlocked with the right investments,” Michael added.

Fox further told the crowd that he was given only ten years to work.

“That’s what happened. The hardest part of my diagnosis was grappling with the certainty of the diagnosis and the uncertainty of the situation,” he noted.

“I only knew it would get worse. The diagnosis was definite, but the progress was indefinite and uncertain. My Wife, Tracy Pollan, made it clear that she was with me for the duration. But my young son, Sam, didn’t know. He didn’t have a choice.”

After his diagnosis, the award-winning actor revealed that he didn’t share the news with anyone except his family and a few close friends.

“I told very few people, and they kept my secret,” he recalled. “Then there were all kinds of doctors who helped me understand the physical processes that were at work, or not at work, in my brain, as the case may be. Finally, I felt like I needed to tell everybody. I understood it would have a huge impact on my career.”

Fox then thanked his fans for their love and support and said it was because of his fans and family’s support that he gathered the courage to fight against the disease.

“The outpouring of support from the public at large, the beautiful reaction from all of my peers in the entertainment business, all of you, thank you, and the people that I worked with, was transformative.”

In 1991, at the mere age of twenty-nine, the Canadian-born actor was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

According to Daily Mail, “Since his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease, he’s spent much of his career campaigning for better research and raising awareness on the progressive degenerative illness.”  

In 2000 the Family Ties actor set up the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, as the New York Times quoted, is “the most credible voice on Parkinson’s research in the world.”

Ever since his diagnosis, the actor became determined to find the cure for his disease and helped many of his fellow actors in their difficult times.

In October 2021, Fox appeared in an interview with Variety and opened up about his struggle to find the cure for Parkinson’s.

“I enjoy life more. I’m more comfortable in my skin than I was 20 years ago. I can sit down and be calm. I couldn’t do that 25 years ago. That’s the medications, the drug cocktails, and therapies we’ve been a part of.”

The 61-year-old further said that his foundation raised more than $1 billion, which has been used to study the disease and its cure

He further said that although the cure is still not in hand, he’s set up his mind on finding one.

“I’m committed to this. I won’t stop until it happens,” he said.

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Sources: Fox NewsPEOPLEDaily MailVariety

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