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Contacts:  David Reich
(212) 573-6000
david@reichcommunications.com

Tony Rossi
212-759-4050
t.rossi@christophers.org

Jeanne Byington
212-840-5834
jeanne@byington.com

 

 

 

PATTI ANN McDONALD, WIFE OF HEROIC NYPD DETECTIVE STEVEN McDONALD, AND PEDIATRIC REHAB DOCTOR CHUCK DIETZEN TO RECEIVE SPECIAL CHRISTOPHER AWARDS

 

NEW YORK, April 25, 2017 — Special Christopher Awards will be presented to honor the outstanding public service of two remarkable people at the 68th annual Christopher Awards ceremony here on Tuesday, May 16th. Patti Ann McDonald, widow of NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, will receive the Christopher Leadership Award, and pediatric rehabilitation doctor Chuck Dietzen will receive the James Keller Award.

            The Christopher Leadership Award recognizes individuals whose work, actions, and example serve as a guiding light to others. Previous winners include Captain Scotty Smiley, the U.S. Army’s first blind active-duty officer. 

When her husband, New York City police officer Steven McDonald, was shot and paralyzed in the line of duty in 1986, Patti Ann McDonald stood by his side and supported him through challenges the couple could never have imagined when they took their wedding vows a few months earlier. Steven earned deserved praise over the years for forgiving his assailant, serving as an international peace advocate, and giving witness that life with a disability can still be filled with purpose and joy. And Patti Ann deserves a great deal of praise herself.

Steven credited her with giving him the will to live 31 years ago, so they could together raise the child she would soon give birth to: a son they named Conor. Patti Ann’s trust in God kept Steven hopeful that better times were ahead, and her modeling of sacrificial love became the rock that Steven and Conor could always lean on. In addition, after years as a Trustee of the Village of Malverne, Patti Ann was elected Mayor. She is serving her tenth year in that position. She’s also coached tennis for a local school for 12 years; and she and Steven both coached a girls’ basketball and softball team. 

Steven McDonald passed on earlier this year, but the love he shared with Patti Ann remains eternal. She has become a living witness to the Christopher ideal that “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” For that reason, The Christophers are honored to present Patti Ann McDonald with our 2017 Christopher Leadership Award.

 The James Keller Award, named after The Christophers’ founder, recognizes individuals who are positively shaping the lives of children. Past winners include Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Dr. Chuck Dietzen has been helping kids all his life, thanks to the influence of his parents who took in 150 foster children over 20 years. Regarding his mother and father, he said, “My parents didn’t preach giving and caring for others. They demonstrated it on a regular basis.” When he decided to pursue a medical career in pediatrics, his background in sports led him to physical rehabilitation as a specialty, working with disabled kids. His mission expanded more in 1997, after an encounter with Mother Teresa. From her, he learned, “Be ordinary, but have an extraordinary mission.”

That experience prompted Dr. Chuck to ask himself, “Why did God put me here?” The answer he came up with was, “I’m here to save every child I can, and do what I can to relieve suffering. But the other part of that is revealing to others that we weren’t all born to be doctors and nurses, but we were all born to be healers.” Soon after, Dr. Chuck founded Timmy Global Health, which enlists students and medical volunteers in its mission to bring healthcare to those in need around the world. The organization is named after Dr. Chuck’s brother who died a few days after birth, and it was developed as a living legacy to pediatric hospice.

Dr. Chuck has come to see his patients as “Pint-Sized Prophets,” the title of the book for which he is also winning a Christopher Award this year. He says, “I think the beauty of this work is when you allow yourself to get close enough to these kids, your heart will be broken and, at the same time, healed...They are incredible souls who were sent here to make us better, to make us more compassionate, more kind, more human.”

The Christophers, a nonprofit organization, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity.  The ancient Chinese proverb —“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio, online and awards programs.  More information is available at www.christophers.org.


Contacts:  David Reich
(212) 573-6000
david@reichcommunications.com

Tony Rossi
212-759-4050
t.rossi@christophers.org

Jeanne Byington
212-840-5834
jeanne@byington.com

 

 

 

EMMY AWARD-WINNING ANCHOR ERNIE ANASTOS AND POPULAR HALLMARK CHANNEL SERIES “WHEN CALLS THE HEART” TO RECEIVE SPECIAL CHRISTOPHER AWARDS

 

NEW YORK, April 20, 2016 — At the 67th annual Christopher Awards ceremony here on Thursday May 19th, Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Ernie Anastos will receive the Christopher Life Achievement Award, while the family-friendly Hallmark Channel series “When Calls the Heart” will be honored with the Christopher Spirit Award.

                The Christopher Life Achievement Award recognizes individuals whose personal and professional contributions to making the world a better place have left an indelible mark on our culture. Previous winners include jazz legend Dave Brubeck, actor Carroll O’Connor, and author/historian David McCullough.

                For more than 35 years, Ernie Anastos has been—and remains—a respected and beloved television news anchor. His desire to work as a broadcaster emerged at age 10, and his illustrious career has brought him to New York’s top television stations as the lead anchor at WABC-TV, WCBS-TV, and currently at FOX 5 News. Anastos’s professionalism and dedication to reporting stories in ways that educate—and sometimes inspire—has earned him accolades that include more than 30 Emmy Awards and nominations, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and a place in the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Anastos’s talent may be overshadowed only by his generous heart. He can often be found devoting time to charities, such as St. Francis Food Pantries of New York. Proceeds for his children’s book, “Ernie and the Big Newz,” were donated to The Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The four things closest to Anastos’s heart, though, are his faith, family, fans, and Greek heritage. His grandfather was one of the first Greek Orthodox priests in the United States. Anastos also developed close ties with the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, including organizations such as The Christophers and Catholic Charities. In an industry that often focuses on the negative, Anastos credits his faith with giving him the hopeful, positive attitude that serves as the foundation of his life, work, and interactions with the public.  

You may not expect a TV series on the Hallmark Channel to be described as “radical,” but such is the case with “When Calls the Heart,” winner of the 2016 Christopher Spirit Award for telling stories that reflect the Christopher motto, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” The show’s radical nature doesn’t stem from its pushing the envelope on edgy content, however, but rather from its embrace of stories that an entire family can watch together—a rarity in this day and age. It has been compared to TV classics like “Little House on the Prairie.”

Created by executive producers Michael Landon Jr., Brian Bird, and Brad Krevoy—and supported by Hallmark Channel president and CEO Bill Abbott and Executive Vice President of Programming and Network Publicity Michelle Vicary—“When Calls the Heart” was inspired by the Janette Oke novel of the same name, and stars Erin Krakow, Daniel Lissing, Lori Loughlin, and Jack Wagner. It takes place in 1910, and tells the story of Elizabeth Thatcher, a young teacher who gets assigned to the frontier town Hope Valley, where residents are good-hearted people with a deep sense of community. Community is also at the heart of the show’s success: namely, the online fanbase known as “Hearties.” Their Tweeting during each episode has set new social media records for Hallmark Channel programming and continues to win the show more and more viewers. The series was recently renewed for a fourth season.

Why does “When Calls the Heart” resonate with so many people? Executive producer Brian Bird explains, “The goal is to tell universal stories with themes like forgiveness, redemption, sacrifice, courage, and banding together to help one another. The characters on our show reflect those virtues and hopefully make a lasting impression on our viewers.”      

The Christophers, a nonprofit organization, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity.  The ancient Chinese proverb —“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio, online and awards programs.  More information is available at www.christophers.org.

 

   

 

To see this year’s Christopher Award winners in the categories of Film, TV, Books for Adults, and Books for Young People,click here.