INDIANAPOLIS, May 2 Eli Lilly and Company isproud to honor six inspiring winners at the 10th annual Welcome Back Awardsceremony in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 3. For the past decade, theWelcome Back Awards has recognized individuals for their outstandingcommitments to mental health, donating nearly half a million dollars to not-for-profit organizations on behalf of program honorees.
"These honorees are breaking new ground in the field of depression; fromproviding mental health guidance for victims of Hurricane Katrina to bringingpostpartum depression education to life, these winners tackle mental healthissues from the ground up," said Rakesh Jain, M.D., Welcome Back Awardcommittee member and director of psychiatric drug research at R/D ClinicalResearch Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. "Each of the winners is a pioneer,bringing depression awareness to their individual communities and the countryat large."
This year, in celebration of the program's 10th anniversary, a special"Person of the Decade" award was created to honor a previous winner whose workcontinues to positively impact the depression community.
"I was on the verge of giving up when I received a life-changing call,informing me I won a Welcome Back Award," said Rory White, founding manager ofthe Skid Row Lamp Art Project in Los Angeles and a 2004 honoree, who wasselected this year by an independent committee of experts as the Welcome BackAward Person of the Decade. "Bringing validation to programs like mine, theWelcome Back Awards has helped create a legacy that will work to banish thestigma of mental illness for years to come," White said
Although White's work with the Skid Row Lamp Art Project is the mostrewarding endeavor of his life, securing funding and recognition for thishigh-level art program serving Skid Row homeless individuals with depressionand other mental illnesses, had seemed an insurmountable task. Fortunately,that phone call was the sign he needed to persevere. Now, four years later,White continues providing opportunities for the homeless and mentally ill onLos Angeles' Skid Row to achieve successes in their own lives. His WelcomeBack Award became the first in a long line of prestigious awards granted tothe art project. In addition, paintings from the art project are being usedin the filming of the major motion picture, "The Soloist," which dramatizesthe life of a Julliard-trained cellist who became homeless in Skid Row becauseof his mental illness. The Skid Row Lamp Art Project will also be the focusof a feature length documentary, "Ashes and Roses."
Lilly established the Welcome Back Awards in 1998 to fight the stigmaassociated with depression and to promote the understanding that depression istreatable. Each year, an independent panel of national mental health leadersrecognizes five individuals for their outstanding achievements, and Lillyawards donations ranging between $10,000 and $15,000 to the not-for-profitorganization of each winner's choice.
The 2008 Welcome Back Awards honorees are:
Lifetime Achievement: Mary Jo Codey, West Orange, N.J.
Mary Jo Codey's personal experiences with postpartum depression duringboth her pregnancies opened her eyes to the impact that limited knowledge andunderstanding of postpartum depression had in her community and throughout herstate. As the first lady of New Jersey, Codey seized the opportunitypresented by her husband's 14 months as governor from 2004 to 2006 to bringattention to the condition through public appearances and interviews. Shecourageously detailed her experiences with an illness that many find difficultto understand. In addition, Codey played a key role in developing, and servedas spokesperson for, a widely successful statewide postpartum depressioneducation campaign, "Recognizing Postpartum Depression: Speak Up When You'reDown." She also inspired New Je