AARP award winners made an impact

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AARP The Magazine honored its 2007 Impact Awards winners Dec. 18 at the New York Public Library.

Guests were treated to a welcome reception of hors d'oeuvres, wine and honoree photo-ops in the library's Astor Hall. A string trio entertained the crowd with holiday music.

"When I look into the faces of the children that I see, I feel the potential for all of us," said actress Marlo Thomas, honoree for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Hosted by CNN anchor Paula Zahn, the awards paid tribute to 10 people who have made the world a better place through innovative thinking, passion and perseverance in their communities. As Ms. Thomas said, "Takers always eat better, but givers always sleep better."

Winners included celebrities such as Robert De Niro for Champion of Livable Communities, Ms. Thomas for Fundraiser for Children's Health Research, Valerie Harper for World Hunger Fighter, David Hyde Pierce for Alzheimer's Association Spokesperson and Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas for Health Care Reformer.

Other honorees were Cordelia Taylor for Nursing Home Pioneer, Shirley Ann Jackson for Crusader for Math and Science Education, Elouise Cobell for Advocating Financial Security for Native Americans, Jack McConnell for Health Provider for Low-Income Patients and Jim Larranaga for Model Coach of Healthy Behavior.

Director Martin Scorsese presented Mr. De Niro with his award for revitalizing downtown New York after 9/11 with the Tribeca Film Festival.

The winners are featured in AARP The Magazine's January/February 2007 issue and are listed at www.aarpmagazine.org.

The event included Ms. Cobell's speech on the unjust financial hardships American Indians face. Ms. Cobell, who grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in northwestern Montana, began a legal battle against the U.S. Interior Department that revealed massive fraud of Indian revenues dating to the 19th century.

"My son and I were waiting in line at the Statue of Liberty, and my son didn't want to wait," she said. "So I told him to wait, because one of these days we will repossess this."

Gov. Douglas discussed how he was able to pass the country's first universal health care law, with coverage for the state's 61,000 uninsured residents as well as a series of cost-saving reforms.

"We weren't willing to wait for Washington," he said. "The state has to take the lead."

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