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The Ruderman Family Foundation is proud to announce Michael Phelps , the most decorated swimmer of all time, as the recipient of its Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion in recognition of his advocacy for people with disabilities and the sharing of his own journey with mental health.
In sharing his personal story with the world, Phelps has demonstrated the importance of taking care of oneself and accessing help when needed. In a world in which shame and stigma are pervasive, Phelps’ leadership in advocacy, raising awareness and destigmatizing mental health is critical.
“The Ruderman Family Foundation is proud to recognize Michael Phelps with the Morton E. Ruderman Award. Michael has shined a national spotlight on mental health and is helping to eradicate shame and stigma from our society. He has changed the landscape of mental health awareness, and we look forward to working with Michael to create a world in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their stories,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation.
“I am honored to receive the Morton E. Ruderman Award, thank you to the Ruderman Family Foundation for this tremendous recognition,” said Phelps. “I applaud the Ruderman Family Foundation on their continued efforts to help eliminate the shame and stigma that surrounds mental illness. Together, we can normalize the mental health conversation and recognize the potential in every person, with or without mental illness, to contribute to our world in their own unique way.”
Michael Phelps is the most decorated swimmer in history, capturing a total of 28 medals including a record-setting 23 gold medals, over the course of his career. Phelps utilized his performance bonus for winning eight gold medals in 2008 to establish the Michael Phelps Foundation, which promotes water safety, healthy living and the pursuit of dreams. The Foundation’s signature program –im – provides a comprehensive learn-to-swim, healthy living (including mental wellness) and goal-setting curriculum to Boys & Girls Clubs and Special Olympics athletes.
Since retirement from swimming, Phelps has dedicated his time and energy to promote the importance of water-safety and normalizing the conversation surrounding mental health. A Global Ambassador for Special Olympics International, Phelps was the Honorary Chairperson of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (“SAMHSA”) National Mental Health Awareness Day 2017 and recipient of the organizations’ Special Recognition Award for his mental health advocacy. In addition, Phelps is an Ambassador for the Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf social media campaign in an effort to help end the stigmas associated with mental health and learning disabilities.
The Award, now in its fifth year, was named after Morton E. Ruderman, a founder of the Ruderman Family Foundation. A successful entrepreneur, mentor and proud family man, he saw his success as the result of help he received from others and was therefore passionate about providing opportunities for others – including assisting many people in becoming independent and successful in business. In years’ prior, the award has gone to advocates from several societal sectors, including Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, former Iowa Senator and driving force behind the Americans with Disability Act, Senator Tom Harkin, disability self-advocate Ari Ne’eman and Harvard Law Professor Michael Stein.