Lurie Children’s Announces Recipients of 2021 Hope & Courage Awards

September 10, 2021

Awards recognize inspirational community leaders for their exceptional efforts to promote child health, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has announced the recipients of the 2021 Hope & Courage Awards which recognize exceptional community leaders who are lighting the way toward a healthier future for every child.  “Our Hope and Courage Awardees are an inspiration to all of us, and we are so grateful for the resolve and leadership they have demonstrated in a truly unprecedented time,” said Thomas Shanley, MD, President & CEO. “We are honored to recognize exceptional Youth, Government Leaders and Community Advocates who are lighting the way toward a healthier future for every child.”

The 2021 Lurie Children’s Hope & Courage Award recipients are:

  • Yalina Lopez- Youth Leader Award: When Yalina was 12, doctors conducted genetic testing and discovered a rare genetic mutation causing Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy. This mutation affects one person in 500,000 and most commonly men. In 2018, a spinal fusion helped connect vertebrae in Yalina's spine and treat her scoliosis.

Yalina has used her experience to become an advocate for other patients. She has been a member of Lurie Children’s Kids Advisory board and Children’s Advisory Networks (iCAN) for over 4 years. In 2020, Yalina participated in Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Week to help increase government investment in child health. Yalina has even found time and energy to foster and bottle-feed 10 vulnerable kittens at once through Forget-Me-Not Rescue!

  • House Majority Leader Representative Greg Harris- Government Leader Award: Representative Harris has become the Illinois General Assembly’s key leader on healthcare, and has made a meaningful impact advancing child health policies.

During his time in office, Harris has successfully expanded access to healthcare, increased mental health services, services for at-risk youth and protections for people with disabilities. Harris also continues to lead the fight for protections for the LGBTQ community.

  • Northwest Center- Community Advocate Award: The Northwest Center was founded in 2003 to help families in Chicago's Belmont Cragin Community access critical resources to improve their economic wellbeing. Since that time, Northwest Center has expanded its services to neighboring communities. They have helped to keep families in their homes and have provided access to job training and employment opportunities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Northwest Center stepped up as leaders in new and significant ways. There were more COVID-19 infections in Belmont Cragin than any other in the City. In response, they partnered with the City of Chicago and became the first Protect Chicago Plus community, piloting a hyper-local pandemic response and vaccination effort that served as a model for neighborhoods across the City.

Previous Hope & Courage award winners have included U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Secretary of State Jesse White; Linda Ginzel and Boaz Keysar, founders of Kids in Danger; Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), a collaborative for education and racial justice led by students of color from six community organizations across the city of Chicago; Jamarielle Ransom-Marks, a leukemia patient whose family organized one of the largest private blood and bone marrow drives in the Chicago area and Maddi Bertrand, a national Cystic Fibrosis research advocate and Lurie Children’s Kids Advisory Board (KAB) member.