The Tony Awards will be presented this weekend, but one Broadway actress has always awarded her a Tony for her work off the stage.
Julie Halston may be known for starring in comedies on and off Broadway. But the award she just received was awarded to her for her work as an advocate for research and treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.
“I’m obsessed with making sure people know about pulmonary fibrosis – know to ask their doctor about it,” says Halston.
Halston knows all too well the toll of an incurable disease. Her late husband Ralph Howard died of the illness. Howard was a radio host for 1010 WINS and “The Howard Stern Show” on SiriusXM. Howard was first thought to have asthma.
“The doctor said, ‘You know what? You don’t have asthma. You have pulmonary fibrosis. And it was such a shock for us, ”says Halston.
Shortly after the diagnosis, Halston gathered the theater community to help him. She co-founded Broadway Bells, using the great voices of Broadway to put on a show to raise funds each year for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. The organization has raised $ 2 million since 2010.
This effort earned Halston the Isabelle Stevenson Special Tony Award for Humanitarian Efforts.
“The theater is a service. So getting an award for your work as an actress, but also as a lawyer, as someone who does a service to a community, is doubly rewarding, ”she says.
Halston says upon accepting the award that she has always dreamed of a life in the theater, but now her dream is to help find some for pulmonary fibrosis.
Pulmonary fibrosis causes scarring of the lungs and an inability to breathe. Each year, up to 50,000 people are diagnosed with the disease.