Richard Lugar honored with Jefferson Award for lifetime achievement

INDIANAPOLIS -- A Hoosier who spent his life serving others was honored Thursday with a lifetime achievement award.

RTV6 General Manager Larry Blackerby and the Jefferson Awards Foundation presented the award to former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar at the annual Jefferson Awards banquet Thursday.

Lugar was once a school board member who went on to serve as mayor of Indianapolis, before spending six terms in the U.S. Senate.

He is a longtime supporter of the Jefferson Awards, and has continued to give back through the Lugar Center.

"I thank each one of you tonight for people who have great ideas, who have compassion for others," Lugar said. "Who are eager really to make a difference for this community and for our country and for our world. And I thank the Jefferson Awards, again and again, for this wonderful recognition. Thanks so very much."

Each year, one of our local winners is selected to represent Central Indiana at the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Justin Phillips was awarded that honor this week. Phillips' 20-year-old son Aaron died of a heroin overdose in 2013.

Phillips started a non-profit called "Overdose Lifeline" to spread awareness, and she helped get a state law passed allowing anyone to get Narcan at a pharmacy and administer it to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

MORE | Mom turns heartache in to mission | Proposed bill eliminates need for Narcan prescription

"It's a really big honor and I just want to change the way we talk about addiction, because entirely too many people are dying," Phillips said. "It's the only thing I know how to do in Aaron's memory."

Phillips was also selected to be one of the White House's "Champions of Change" at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 29.

Senator Joe Donnelly announced the award on Friday.

“Justin Phillips exemplifies the qualities of a Champion of Change, and this recognition from the White House is well deserved," Donnelly said. "Justin’s efforts to address the opioid abuse and heroin epidemics, in memory of her son Aaron, are making a difference for families in central Indiana and across the state. It’s going to take all of us—elected officials, doctors, public health experts, law enforcement, and smart, committed Hoosiers like Justin—to effectively combat these epidemics.” 

The national Jefferson Awards ceremony in Washington D.C. takes place in June.

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