Michael J. Fox, the actor who starred in such 80’s teen movies as the Back to the Future trilogy and Teen Wolf, has been honoured by his native country for “his service to Canada or humanity at large.” More specifically, Fox was awarded the Order of Canada for his endeavours in supporting Parkinson’s Disease research.
Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 30 shortly after completing the movie Doc Hollywood. He continued to act for some years (he ‘semi-retired’ in 2000) and ‘came out’ about his condition in 1998, since when he has become politically active in seeking awareness and support for research into Parkinson’s. He set up the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000; this organisation “is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today.”
Fox is also the author of two memoirs that describe his experiences with Parkinson’s (and yes, I intend to feature them in a future post – after I’ve read the second one!).
[Edit: That post is now up! See here.]
Michael J. Fox is perhaps the most high profile person to have been diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s. He has made it his business to ensure that this condition is publicised. As such, he has used his privileged position to help everyone who has Parkinson’s, particularly, I think, those who contracted it at an early age.
Fox’s dedication to his cause is without question, as is his philanthropy (the foundation could never have existed without his personal fortune). Yet, still, people find cause to complain about the honour he has received. Looking at the comments on the CTV article, some seem to think that he is being honoured for his acting career (there is nothing in the article to suggest this) and that, as he is no longer resident in Canada, he does not deserve the country’s respect. As a mere Briton, I am not qualified to comment, but it seems to me that, whatever his residency status – or even his citizenship – Fox has made excellent use of the resources available to him and would be a credit to any nation.