Introducing the Winners of the 2022 Rebecca Luker Courage Award

Impact Takes Courage.

Introducing the Target ALS Rebecca Luker Courage Award series, presented by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America,
which recognizes the men and women making a difference in the fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Presented By

“There are so many individuals making a meaningful difference in the fight against ALS, it’s an honor to recognize some of them with this inaugural award,” said Manish Raisinghani, President and CEO of Target ALS. 

“It was also an honor to partner with MTPA on this initiative and so gratifying for our team to recognize and celebrate our outstanding colleagues.”

Inspired by Rebecca

Rebecca Luker was one of Broadway’s best known performers for over 30 years.

Sadly, she passed away from ALS in December of 2020, just over a year after receiving her diagnosis. Despite battling the disease, Rebecca showed incredible courage as an advocate for ALS clinical trials and treatments while also recording her final album. She did everything in her power to not let ALS interrupt her connection to her family, friends, and community.

The Award Criteria


Does this person have a unique approach to the fight against ALS, and/or have they contributed something new?


Has this person’s approach rallied others to join them, and has that collaboration enhanced the outcome of their efforts?


Have this person’s efforts made a significant impact, and/or have they reached or exceeded a particular goal?


Has their work influenced many people and/or a significant portion of their target audiences?

Our Panel of Judges:

Manish Raisinghani

President and CEO, Target ALS

Danny Burstein


Tony Award Winning Actor, Rebecca Luker’s Husband

Sally Wilfert

Broadway Star and Rebecca Luker’s Best Friend

Laura P. W. Ranum

Director of the Center for NeuroGenetics at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine

Sunny Brous

ALS Advocate

Magdalini Polymenidou

Associate Professor of Biomedicine at the University of Zurich’s Department of Quantitative Biomedicine

Introducing the Winners

“We are thrilled to announce Merit E. Cudkowicz as the first recipient of the Rebecca Luker Courage Award,” said Atsushi Fujimoto, President of MTPA.

“As an organization that’s committed to the advancement of ALS research and treatment, we are encouraged and inspired by those who strive to make a difference in the lives of those affected by ALS every day. Together, we’re battling on all fronts to fight ALS.”

Courage Award Winner: Merit E. Cudkowicz

In addition to leading the Neurology Department at Massachusetts General, Cudkowicz serves as Director of the Sean M. Healey and AMG Center for ALS and is the Julieanne Dorn Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Colleagues say she has “worked to ensure that all people with ALS have access to care, opportunities to participate in clinical trials, and are surrounded by hope.”

Unsung Hero Winner: Joumana Baroody

Director of Care Services at the Greater Chicago Chapter of the ALS Association, Joumana Baroody cares for ALS patients at multiple clinics in the Chicago area, including at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Loyola, Rush University, and Northshore Hospital. She is “very experienced regarding the psychological as well as physical needs of her patients.”

Awards of Recognition: Tim Miller, Sandy Morris, and Mark Calmes

Tim Miller is the “driving force” behind the ALS Center at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. One of the nation’s foremost researchers into neurodegenerative diseases, he has spent decades searching for better ways to treat, prevent, and cure ALS. He is also a professor of neurology.

Sandy Morris, a person living with ALS, says her slogan is “from heartbreak to action.” Friends say that Morris has a “unique approach that brings people together to establish new ways of collaborating.” Despite her decreased mobility due to the disease, she “remains unstoppable, always providing encouragement, support, and practical ideas.”

Mark Calmes, believes that philanthropy is an “investment of heart and soul into advocacy for people and causes that truly make a difference.” He honors his late wife, who died after a long battle with ALS, with innovative programs like the Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to students whose families are burdened by the disease.

For more information on the awards and recipients, please visit and

Take Action

Looking for other ways to make a difference in the fight against ALS?

Donate to the Rebecca Luker Research Fund Today.