For the past eight years the Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award has recognized outstanding work in helping farmed animals. Stan and Carole Feldman established the award, in cooperation with CAA, to honor the memory of their son, Kenny, an animal lover and advocate.
Recently the Feldmans informed us that they would not be continuing the award. We appreciate their many years of support and laud the tremendous impact this award has made in helping spare farmed animals from lives of suffering. The impact will carry into the future through the continued work of the ten individuals who have been honored.
Kenny Feldman thought animals were to be cared for and allowed to a live a life with freedom. He was a close friend of Compassionate Action for Animals co-founder Unny Nambudiripad, and inspired Unny to become an activist. Sadly, we lost Kenny to suicide in 1999. From that tragic loss, the family moved to establish this award, in cooperation with CAA, to acknowledge the contributions of individuals in the Twin Cities region who strive to create a more compassionate world.
In addition to the award, Stan and Carole have been active in supporting animal advocates’ mental health. As part of this, they created educational materials and provided critical support for people dealing with mental health issues themselves or those who were supporting struggling family members. In addition, their financial support for the Twin Cities Veg Fest has helped thousands of people embrace their empathy for animals and move toward a plant-based diet.
Through these efforts and their impact upon so many lives—human and non human— Kenny’s memory lives on. Many people — board members, staff members, award winners, and attendees of Twin Cities Veg Fest— have wonderful memories of the Feldmans, the award, and Kenny. Even though most didn’t get to know Kenny while he was here, they felt they got to know him through these efforts over the years.
We are pleased to share the Feldman’s farewell note to us as a fitting capstone to this highly impactful program:
“The Feldman family has decided not to continue the Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award. This was not an easy thing for us to do. There are many reasons for making this change which we will not elaborate on. Suffice it to say it’s just time to move on. But in this communication, we want you to know about our feelings about the award we were involved in yearly since 2015.
Our first award winner was the Herbivorous Butcher. lt was handed out at an Uptown restaurant’s upstairs dining room. Very few people attended but it was very meaningful to our family to be able to honor our late son in this way. ln other years it has been handed out at Coffman Memorial Union on the U of M campus and then at Harriet lsland in St. Paul where many more people attended the ceremony. This award we believe was not only a way to have our son’s name remembered and his passion of wanting a better world for ALL animals, but to honor those in this community who are making a difference in acts and deeds to make this happen.
That first award given to the Herbivorous Butcher was an important addition to a movement that CAA was trying to move our region toward. Their stated mission is “to encourage people to embrace their empathy for farmed animals and move toward a plant-based diet.” Through the years it has evolved, in our thinking, to more of what Kenny wanted and our award supported that concept.
All of the award recipients have contributed in some way to making a better world for animals. When we started this sponsorship it was about Kenny’s name being remembered and we loved the idea that it would be tied to a person, group or company that was going to make a substantial difference in the lives of animals. But now, we realize and believe Kenny would be wanting the award winners to receive more attention than him. Kenny would also know that there are many, perhaps millions of individuals making a better world for animals than those that received an award in his name. Many people are now changing what they eat to plant based instead of animal based food, suggesting to others to change what they eat, asking lawmakers to stop factory farming, caring for animals that have been hurt or neglected or so many other ways that make animal lives better.
All of the people who are working for a better world for an animal or animals deserve recognition and some have already been recognized. Those who have been recognized include:
2015—Herbivorous Butcher, owned and operated by Aubry and Kale Walch who are a brother-and-sister team
2016—Scott Dibble, Legislator
2017—Christine Coughlin, for outstanding work for decades in protecting animals in many ways
2018—Unny Nambudiripad; Dave Rolsky; and Matt Mackall, Co-Founders of CAA
2019—Shannon Kimball, Educator (with Bridges of Respect)
2020—Ashley Riddle, for an amazing amount of energy spent advocating for animals.
2021—Terrell Woods, volunteer who lost over 100 lbs. on vegan diet and credits his diet for his better overall health: physical and emotional.
Lastly, we want to make one more plaque for those not recognized and have it placed next to the plaque given to us by the CAA which will read:
“To all of the people of this region who do something large or small to make a better world for an animal or animals you are also a Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award Winner!”
Stan and Carole Feldman
To learn more about Kenny and his legacy, visit the Remembering Kenny Feldman Facebook page.