Campaign Spokesperson Hayden Panettiere wins “Top Honor” at the 2008 Genesis Awards for her passion and commitment to saving dolphins and whales.
Heroes star and Save the Whales Again! Campaign and Whaleman Foundation spokesperson Hayden Panettiere cried tears of joy and sadness Saturday night as the Humane Society presented her their highest activism award for protesting the dolphin slaughter in Taiji Japan last October.
Hayden received the Gretchen Wyler Award, given annually at the Genesis Awards to a celebrity who gets personally involved to bring public attention to animal causes. Wyler, who founded the awards and was also an actress, died last May from breast cancer, two months after presenting the first award to Paul McCartney for his work on the Canadian Seal Hunt.
Hayden’s parents, brother, friends, and supporters were in the audience and watched a video of the actress and others paddling out on surfboards and confronting fishermen, who trap and kill dolphins to protect their fish supply. They then gave a standing ovation as Hayden took the stage.
“As an actress, you always dream of getting Emmys or Academy awards, but I never dreamed of getting an award that is this special and important to me as this,” Hayden said through tears. “There are people who dedicate their entire lives to preserving the environment and defending animals, they are so much more deserving of something like this.”
After her speech, Hayden went straight from the stage to the backroom for several minutes to regain her composure after being visibly moved by the images and the audience’s overwhelming reaction.
“I’ve had the extraordinary pleasure to work with Hayden over the last three years on this campaign.” said Save the Whales Again! Campaign and Whaleman Foundation Founder Jeff Pantukhoff. “To see her passion and dedication at such a young age and the worldwide attention she brings to our cause, I can’t ever thank her enough for all she’s done and continues to do and I’m so very proud of her.”
Up next for Hayden and her family. They are traveling with Jeff to this June’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Santiago Chile to continue their efforts to stop whaling and raise awareness to all the treats facing dolphins, whales , and our oceans.