Target ALS and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America, Inc. today announced the establishment of the inaugural Target ALS Rebecca Luker Courage Award. The award will spotlight individuals who have demonstrated a courageous spirit and made a positive impact on the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) community over the past year.
Three-time Tony-nominated actor Rebecca Luker died from complications with ALS at the age of 59 in December 2020. Luker made her Broadway debut as part of the original cast of The Phantom of the Opera, taking over the role of Christine after the departure of original star Sarah Brightman. She earned Best Actress in a Musical Tony nominations for her performances in Show Boat and The Music Man, and a Best Featured Actress in a Musical nomination for Mary Poppins. Her plethora of Broadway credits also include The Secret Garden, Nine, Cinderella, and Fun Home, which would mark her final Broadway appearance.
"We have dedicated ourselves to a singular focus – helping patients," said Atsushi Fujimoto, President, MTPA. "While we strive for the advancement of ALS research and treatment, we are stronger when fighting together with our advocacy partners and many members of the ALS community. We are tremendously honored to present the Target ALS Rebecca Luker Courage Award to members of the ALS community who tackle seemingly impossible challenges with a tenacious spirit."
To honor the life and legacy of Luker, Target ALS presented Becca in May 2021, a musical tribute to benefit ALS research, with support from MTPA. The concert raised $150,000 for ALS research.
"I'm extremely proud that Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America and Target ALS chose to honor Rebecca with an award that recognizes individuals who are making a real difference in the lives of families affected by ALS," said Danny Burstein, Luker's husband and seven-time Tony award nominee. "Rebecca did everything she could while she was with us to raise awareness of ALS and funds for a cure. While we are heartbroken that the proper therapies and a cure weren't discovered in time for Rebecca, knowing her legacy of advocacy will be honored this way brings great solace to our family."
During the months of July, August and September, community members can nominate individuals for the Rebecca Luker Courage Award by visiting www.TargetALS.org.
Nominations will close on September 30, 2021 and winners will be announced in Fall 2021. In addition to the main Courage Award, there also will be an Unsung Hero category and up to three Awards of Recognition.