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John W. Walsh PAR Award for Excellence

Advocacy Giant: John W. Walsh

Through a unanimous vote in November, the ATS Public Advisory Roundtable moved to rename one of its existing awards. The PAR Excellence Award, presented each year at the International Conference, will now be referred to as the John W. Walsh PAR Award for Excellence. Mr. Walsh died in March. He was a luminary in the field and helped build the ATS Public Advisory Roundtable since inception. He served as vice chair in 2001-03, chair from 2003-05, and in more ways than one embodied what the Excellence Award stands for.

Mr. Walsh’s reach went far beyond the ATS; it even extended beyond the respiratory community. The Alpha-1 Network he established forged international relationships and collaborations. In 2014, he was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Organization of Rare Disorders—for his work with Alpha-1 and COPD. He inspired countless people, several of whom went on to become support group leaders or advocacy leaders. In his own words, he was the “impatient patient” who would not take “no” for an answer. Mr. Walsh devoted his life in search for cures. In his 20 years as head of the Alpha-1 Foundation, he raised over $65 million for research. He made it a point to connect with as many patients with alpha-1 as he could, which is what he treasured most. He also worked against the stigma of being diagnosed with respiratory illness.

A generation of ATS PAR members are indebted to Mr. Walsh for his mentorship including current Chair Kerri Connolly, and PAR Emeritus members Donna Appell, and Teresa Barnes. According to Ms. Connolly, the Roundtable that Mr. Walsh helped build “creates a more powerful and unified advocacy community—in lung disease and beyond.”

View past recipients of the John W. Walsh PAR Excellence Award.