Dr. Christine Blasey Ford presented Sports Illustrated’s “Inspiration of the Year” award to former gymnast Rachael Denhollander at the Sportsperson of the Year Awards on Tuesday.
In her first public appearance since testifying against Brett Kavanaugh, Blasey Ford presented the award via pre-recorded video, commending Denhollander for finding “the courage to talk publicly to stop the abuse of others.”
Denhollander publicly accused and initiated the lawsuit against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar for sexual assault. Hundreds of other former gymnasts joined the suit, along with 23 husbands of gymnasts. To date, more than 300 women have said they were assaulted by Nassar.
In presenting the award, Blasey Ford said, “I am honored to speak with you from afar about a woman I admire so much, a woman who suffered abuse as a vulnerable teenage athlete….Her courage inspired other survivors to end their silence and we all know the result.”
Nassar has been sentenced effectively to a life sentence, including up to 175 years on charges of sexual assault in Michigan and a 60-year term on federal child pornography charges.
“Rachel Denhollander,” Blasey Ford continued, “I am in awe of you and I will always be inspired by you. In stepping forward, you took a huge risk and you galvanized future generations to come forward, even when the odds are seemingly stacked against them. The lasting lesson is that we all have the power to create real change and we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the acts of others.”
Blasey Ford received death threats and was unable to return home after she publicly testified that she had been sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when the two were in high school. On Nov. 21, Blasey Ford posted a note on a GoFundMe fundraiser that had been started to help her family, saying: “Your donations have allowed us to take reasonable steps to protect ourselves against frightening threats… and to enhance the security for our home.” The account was closed with the intent to send any leftover money to organizations providing support to trauma survivors.