Kathy Ireland was honored as Hardwired’s first recipient of the organization’s Champion of Freedom Award for her incredible contributions in defense of persecuted communities worldwide. Kathy, a former supermodel and the founder, CEO and Chief Designer of KiWW (Kathy Ireland Worldwide), offered the keynote address at Hardwired’s Fifth Anniversary Benefit Gala in Richmond, Virginia, held at the historic Jefferson Hotel.
Hardwired is a non-profit organization that trains and equips leaders to defend religious freedom and help communities live in peace worldwide. Hardwired Founder and President, Tina Ramirez, who presented the award, stated, “Everyone standing on the frontlines of religious oppression needs a Champion – someone who will support them, pray for them, and cheer them on. Kathy is one of those Champions. Since 2014, she has stood with me, supporting Hardwired with her personal funds and lending her name and endorsement to help Hardwired rescue Yezidis, Christians, Muslims and so many others from persecution worldwide.” Ramirez continued, “In standing with Hardwired, Kathy has stood alongside the nearly 300 Defenders of Freedom that we have trained in the past five years.”
In her keynote address, Kathy stated, “Hardwired is saving lives and changing the world. They are teaching people across the globe that they are valued and deserve to be free.” She continued, “Hardwired has established more leaders to defend religious freedom in the world than any other group. And those leaders are able to sustain freedom even when the door closes to outside help. And everything they do is backed by evidence that it works…To overcome hatred and rebuild peace.”
Ramirez also presented the organization’s first Defender of Freedom Award to Judge A (who cannot be named for security reasons). The award, which is given to individuals who have been trained by Hardwired to defend religious freedom, was given to the Judge for his work bringing justice to the victims of genocide in Iraq. The Judge is responsible for sentencing the terrorists who committed genocide against Christians, Yezidis, Muslims, and many others in his country.
Ramirez stated, “Judge A. personifies the impact the Defenders of Freedom Hardwired has trained are having on the ground in countries facing egregious religious persecution. His youngest 17-year-old brother was beheaded by ISIS for his commitment to justice and religious freedom but he did not waver. Instead, he courageously stood his ground for greater religious freedom.”
The Judge stated, “If I do not stand for justice, this (referring to the beheading of his brother) is the fate that awaits every Iraqi.” In receiving the award, the Judge remarked, “Hardwired creates an atmosphere of trust among participants despite the diversity of their religious, national, or sectarian position. I believe it is one of the most effective projects to mobilize in our society in response to the challenges we face in Iraq.”
Hardwired celebrated its fifth anniversary with friends and partners from across the country, including recently elected Congressman Denver Riggleman from Charlottesville, VA, and the Kings of Swing Band. Sponsors included Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and people of many other diverse faiths. Ramirez stated, “Today, we are helping current and future generations to embrace religious freedom and dignity for everyone.”