Alcoholics Anonymous has been honored numerous times for its impact on individuals and society. Following is a list of these awards received and a brief explanation of the event.
The Lasker Award
Since 1946, these annual awards have been presented to individuals and groups. They honor those who have made major contributions to public health efforts. This prestigious award is often compared to the Nobel Prize. Many of its laureates have received both honors.
It was given to A.A. “in recognition of its unique and highly successful approach” to an “age-old public health and social problem, alcoholism.”
The presentation was made in San Francisco at the Opera House on October 30, 1951. Mr. Bernard Smith (nonalcoholic), former chairman of the Board of the Alcoholic Foundation, accepted the award on A.A.'s behalf.
The Gold Key Award
The Gold Key Award was presented to A.A. in 1959. It honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of alcoholism on a national level.
The National Council on Alcoholism (now the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) established the award in 1959.
This organization was founded by Marty M. She was among the first women to achieve permanent sobriety in A.A.
Bill W., A.A.’s co-founder, accepted the award on behalf of the Fellowship.
The Franciscan Award
In 1967, the order of Conventional Franciscan Fathers and Brothers granted the Franciscan Award to A.A. It was given to recognize the “outstanding contribution to humanity” that A.A. has made “in the field of social service.”
A letter to the General Service Office announcing the award reads, in part: “We hope that the granting of the Franciscan Award to the society of Alcoholics Anonymous will be an impetus to all the members to continue and increase their great and much needed work.”
This was the second time the Franciscans granted the Fellowship an award. It was also received in 1950. Bill W. appreciated the precedent that was set at that time to honor the organization rather than the founders. He explained the concept “came from the Founder of your order, St. Francis of Assisi, whose example and spirit have already done so much for me and for A.A.”
Volunteer Action Award
President Reagan presented A.A. with a Volunteer Action Award in a ceremony at the White House on April 13, 1983. It was given to recognize A.A.’s 48-year history of providing the suffering alcoholic with a way back to society and family.
The President’s Volunteer Action Awards were created in 1982. They highlight those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments through voluntary action. Accepting the award for A.A. was William E. Flynn, M.D., then a nonalcoholic trustee on the General Service Board. The award itself is in the form of a sterling silver medallion.
The President made the following remarks when the award was presented:
“Alcoholics Anonymous, begun in 1935 by two men diagnosed by medical specialists as incurable alcoholics, is a unique program of support, example and friendship by recovering alcoholics for new members. Since A.A.’s founding, over 650,000 men and women who have participated have overcome their alcoholism.”