On February 4, the Missouri Mental Health Foundation announced the recipients of the 2015 Mental Health Champions’ Award. The award recognizes an individual with mental illness, developmental disabilities and addiction disorders who make positive contributions to their community, exemplify commitment and vision, and whose actions have increased the potential for independence in others with similar mental health conditions.
This year’s winners were Kate Certain (Kansas City), Cory McMahon (Columbia), and Christine McDonald (St. Charles).
McDonald advocates at the local, state, and national level for addiction recovery support, along with rallying for other underserved populations. Seeking survival from her abusive home, she was thrust onto the streets at a young age. As a survivor of human trafficking, homelessness, and addiction, she is on a mission to bring justice and awareness to the forefront of social change through education and awareness.
McDonald survived a 17-year journey of homelessness, which comprised of being sex trafficked, drug addiction, prostitution, 103 arrests, and seven prison stints. After making the decision to turn her life around, however, she was again faced with one of the most difficult challenges of her life – she was forced to choose between keeping her eyesight and her unborn daughter’s life. McDonald made the decision to continue with her pregnancy.
“Instead of feeling sorry for herself, Christine has worked tirelessly for change,” said one nominator. “The dictionary should have Christine McDonald’s picture under the definition of the word ‘perseverance.’”
Over the past year, McDonald played a leading role in changing state legislation to allow drug felons access to food stamps (Senate Bill 680).
She is the author of the 2013 memoir Cry Purple, a book that details the brutality and discrimination that McDonald has faced and the resilience and optimism that she walked away with.
The winners will be recognized at a banquet to be held on June 9, 2015. Click here to register for the banquet.