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Heather Heyer to be Honored Posthumously as 2017 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awardee for Social Justice; Heyer’s Mother, Susan Bro, to Accept Award

Musical Entertainment includes IMAJ, The Paragon Project, CJ Vanston, Tom Strahle
Tickets Available Through September 8th

NOTE to Members of the Media:  The deadline for receiving media credential requests is Wednesday, September 13th. For more information and to fill out an online request, visit


LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (September 6, 2017) — The Muhammad Ali Center announces a new humanitarian award to be presented at the Fifth Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards presented by Brown-Forman, on September 23rd. Heather Heyer, who lost her life last month in Charlottesville while fighting for her beliefs and campaigning against hate, will be posthumously honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Social Justice. Her mother, Susan Bro, will be present to receive the award.

Heather Heyer, Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Social Justice

Heather D. Heyer, a young woman with a big heart and a love for all individuals regardless of race, religion or creed, was killed on August 12, 2017 at age 32, when a car plowed into a crowd of counterdemonstrators who were protesting a rally of neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists.
As a child, Heather had a strong sense of right and wrong, and how people should be treated. As a high school graduate who had worked for years as a waitress and a bartender, Heather was given the opportunity in 2012 to work at a local law firm in Charlottesville, VA. In this new professional role, Heather worked hard to better herself, to establish a career, and become a paralegal. As she matured, Heather continued to voice her concerns and views about inequalities, discrimination, and mistreatment of individuals and population segments. By speaking out for justice and equality for all, Heather embodied the spirit of the civil rights movement.
Heather was a young woman who was deeply involved in taking a stand against injustice when she didn’t have to do so. Her story shows how much has changed since the civil rights movement but it also shows how far we have to go as a country.  

Accepting the award on Heyer’s behalf will be her mother, Susan Bro. Since Heather’s passing, Bro has been an outspoken advocate for using Heather’s senseless death as a purposeful rallying cry for justice and equality, and fairness and compassion. Two weeks after Heather’s passing, Ms. Bro launched The Heather Heyer Foundation in honor of her late daughter.  The Foundation will use funds to give scholarships to students interested in pursuing careers in law, paralegal studies, education and social justice issues, among other topics.

The Awards performers will add greatness and celebration to the inspirational evening.

Each year, the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards include musical and other artistic performances that mirror the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali, and the spirit and message of the evening’s event.

The performer line-up includes:

  • IMAJ, multi-talented singer-songwriter, described as a “country darling of peace and love,” who can perform in six languages.
  • The Paragon Project, a platform designed to give voice to the talented high school performing arts students, musicians, producers and poets at The Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, a Grammy Award-winning performing arts high school in Ohio.
  • Tom Strahle, LA-based guitarist, songwriter and composer who has written with Justin Bieber, Taboo, Taylor Swift, and many others.
  • CJ Vanston, Hollywood-based film composer, record producer, songwriter, keyboardist, and music director for Spinal Tap

The Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards celebrate the greatness of people from around the world who are making a difference in their community and beyond.

Previously announced 2017 Humanitarian Awardees are:

HRH Princess Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite, Executive Director of the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT), medical doctor, geneticist, and humanitarian, will be honored as the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Patricia Arquette, Academy Award-winning actress, activist, founder of GiveLove, and humanitarian, will receive the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Ashley Judd, Actress, activist and Kentuckian, will be presented the Muhammad Ali Kentucky Humanitarian Award.

Paige Elenson, global humanitarian and founder of the Africa Yoga Project, will receive the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Global Citizenship.

Hill Harper, Actor, author, and philanthropist, entrepreneur, and founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, will be honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Education.

Michael Buffer, professional ring announcer, will emcee for the evening.



Lonnie Ali, Co-Founder of the Muhammad Ali Center, widow of Muhammad Ali, and advocate for children’s rights and Parkinson’s disease research

Jamillah Ali-Joyce, daughter of Muhammad Ali and Illinois Secretary of State Employment Counselor in the City of Chicago

Mark Hogg, Founder and CEO of WaterStep, motivational speaker, and the 2013 Kentucky Muhammad Ali Humanitarian awardee

Allan Houston, Assistant General Manager of the New York Knicks, General Manager of the Westchester Knicks, and President of Allan Houston Enterprises

Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center

Kevin Martinez, Vice President of Corporate Outreach for ESPN

Geoff Thompson, Former 5-time world karate champion, sports administrator and politician, and Founder and Executive Chair of UK-based Youth Charter


The Six Core Principle Awardees (previously announced) are:

Gavin Armstrong, age 30, Toronto, Canada will be honored for his Confidence in advocating against hunger and malnutrition.

Mohammed Ashour, age 30, Austin, Texas will receive the Conviction Award. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aspire, a company that develops the most advanced insect farming technology in the world.

John-Son Oei, age 30, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia will receive the Dedication Award. He is the co-founder and CEO of EPIC, a company that aims to build relationships between the urban and rural divide through the activity of building homes for underprivileged Malaysian communities.

Iseult Ward, age 26, Dublin, Ireland will receive the Giving Award. She is the co-founder and CEO of the award-winning social enterprise FoodCloud.

Anoop Jain, age 30, Oakland, California will be honored for his Respect working on public health initiatives in India.

Hannah Taylor, age 21, Winnipeg, Canada will receive the Spirituality Award. At age 8, she founded The Ladybug Foundation, a charity that has raised millions of dollars and helped more than 65 homeless shelters and food banks across Canada.

In addition to Brown-Forman, this year’s Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards are also supported by: Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Fusion Corp., H. C. S. Foundation, Tandem PR & Marketing, Ashbourne Farms and River Bend Farm.

Tickets and Table Sponsors
Tickets to the awards can be purchased by September 8th through the Ali Center’s website or by contacting Kelly Watson at or 502.992.5338. For more information, visit

NOTE to Members of the Media:  The Muhammad Ali Center is now accepting media credential requests for this event. For more information and to fill out an online request, visit


About the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards

The Fifth Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards, presented by Brown-Forman, will take place on September 23rd, 2017 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown in Louisville, Kentucky USA. This charitable event of celebration and recognition will honor individuals around the world who have made significant contributions toward the attainment of peace, social justice, or other positive actions pertaining to human or social capital. In addition to awards presented to seasoned humanitarians, six young people, 30 years or younger, are honored with an award for each of Muhammad’s Six Core Principles: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality. This event is the premiere annual fundraiser for the Muhammad Ali Center.

About the Muhammad Ali Center

The Muhammad Ali Center, a 501(c)3 corporation, was co-founded by Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The international cultural center promotes the Six Core Principles of Muhammad Ali (Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality) in ways that inspire personal and global greatness and provides programming and events around the focus areas of education, gender equity, and global citizenship. Its newest initiative, Generation Ali, fosters a new generation of leaders to contribute positively to their communities and to change the world for the better. The Center’s headquarters also contains an award-winning museum experience. For more information, please visit

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