- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2013

For five years straight, I have recommended legendary entertainer and philanthropist Jerry Lewis for the Kennedy Center Honors and the Presidential Medal of Freedom awards, and year after year, he is denied. I’ve written to George Stevens, executive producer of the Kennedy Center awards, to no avail. I’ve even written to President Obama for four years in a row about nominating Mr. Lewis for the Medal of Freedom award, and he has never responded. This is ridiculous.

Jerry Lewis will celebrate his 87th birthday next month. Most of his life has been dedicated to raising millions of dollars to help sick children, yet we are unwilling to recognize his efforts in any public way. Other individuals receive these awards year after year, people who have not accomplished nearly as much as Mr. Lewis has in assisting the helpless and the sick.

I write on behalf of the millions of people with muscular dystrophy who have received help from Mr. Lewis, as well as the millions of people who have enjoyed him for decades as a great entertainer. I also speak for the many people who signed the online petition to have him receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom award this term.

As an artist who has worked with the handicapped, I know all too well how much it means to have assistance provided for those who are forgotten and who desperately need help. I remember watching Mr. Lewis‘ telethons, along with millions of Americans, as a young child.

I am now recommending him again for these two honors and invite the public to sign the online petition to help him get this award. With enough support, he can win the recognition he so rightly deserves.

BARBARA JEAN DANNER

Tuskegee, Ala.