New York, N.Y. - The National Football Foundation awarded the Gold Medal, the organization's highest and most prestigious award, to global humanitarian Dr. Tom Catena, Brown Class of 1986, at the 57th Annual National Football Foundation (NFF) Awards Dinner on December 9, held at the fabled Waldorf Astoria Grand Ballroom in New York City. Catena, along with George Weiss, was presented the Gold Medal by NFF Awards committee chairman Jack Ford.
Catena, a former All-American nose guard at Brown University, established the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountain region of Sudan along with Bishop Macram Gassis. As medical director and sole physician, Catena refused to evacuate during a severe malaria outbreak, stating that as the only doctor in the only hospital in the region, he could not leave in good conscience.
Catena expanded upon his work in Sudan during his acceptance speech. "I am completely humbled by this honor," Catena said. "Back in June 2011, where I work in the Nuba Mountains became engulfed in a civil war and the mission group I worked for told me I had to evacuate. I wrote back to them and I said 'I can't go.' I thought 'is this the message me as a missionary is sending to these people?' Because what they were in a sense saying was my life was worth more than these people here. That's a bunch of nonsense, their lives are equal as my life is…Certainly as a medical missionary, I felt very strongly that I had no more right to life than these people did."