The 13th edition of the Ambassador Prize took place at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris on June 6. This ceremony made it possible to thank and reward the students most strongly involved during the campaign ’Put on your sneakers and beat the disease’ organised in their school.

The choir of Jean Lurçat college opens the ceremony.

The ceremony began with a performance by the choir of the college Jean Lurçat in Achères. The students performed the song “For the children of ELA”, whose lyrics echo the spirit of solidarity that characterises the ‘Put on your sneakers and beat the disease’ campaignat school: “Give for the children of ELA, course for the children of ELA, sings for the children of ELA ”.

Sandrine Quétier, TV host and honorary member of ELA, then welcomed the speakers. For this 13th edition, the ELA association wanted to show young ambassadors that commitment to the fight against leukodystrophies is practised throughout life, by giving the floor to three people who participated when they were students in the ‘Put on your sneakers and beat the disease’ campaign , and  continue to extend their support even today: Michaël Grégorio, impressionist and honorary member of ELA, Françoise Piguet, researcher working on leukodystrophies, and Benjamin Foubert who organized the ‘Put on your sneakers and beat the disease’ campaign in the company he works in. Sophie Thalmann, honorary member of ELA, was also on stage to show her commitment.

The choir of the Jean Lurçat college and the sponsors of ELA sing together the song “For the children of ELA”.

Massive mobilisation of schools

Guy Alba, President of ELA-International and Founder of the Association, opened the ceremony by highlighting the record mobilisation of students. This year, 511,000 of them put on their trainers for ELA. He then recalled that the status of ELA ambassador is a role that we keep for life, and that students can continue to invest in the fight against leukodystrophies throughout their lives, just like Michaël Grégorio, Françoise Piguet and Benjamin Foubert.

A report on Benjamin’s family, affected by leukodystrophy, was broadcast. Sandrine Quétier then spoke with the parents of the little boy, Gaëlle and Fernando, and with his older brother, Matéos, about their daily life, their projects and the support they receive from the ELA association. Guy Alba insisted on the importance of raising funds through the operation ’Put on your sneakers and beat the disease’ at school: “This allows for example to adapt the home or the vehicle of the families concerned”. Sophie Thalmann also joined in, talking about the benefits of practising an adapted physical activity such as equitherapy for people with disabilities. This indeed helps to develop their balance and tone.

Lifetime commitment to ELA

Michaël Grégorio, sponsor of ELA, testified to his long-standing commitment alongside the Association. He recounted his participation in Operation Mets Tes Baskets at school, then explained how he supports ELA families today as a sponsor, including inviting them to his shows. He ended his speech with an excerpt from his show, more particularly his imitation of Jimi Hendrix, to the applause of the students.

Benjamin Foubert then spoke, referring to the ‘Put on your sneakers and beat the disease’ campaign in the high school he attended. He then testified about how he implemented the campaign in the various companies he worked at.

Guy Alba spoke of the progress of medical research, which is one of the priority missions of the Association. Professor Jean-François Dhainaut, Head of the Association’s Research Center, presented the students with ELA’s new fight in this area: neonatal screening.

Following this intervention, Françoise Piguet testified about her educational and professional career. She explained that she wanted to become a researcher in the field of leukodystrophies after being sensitised to these diseases during her participation in the ‘Put on your sneakers and beat the disease’ campaign at school. During her graduate studies, she joined INSERM and joined the teams of Professor Patrick Aubourg to work on gene therapy for metachromatic leukodystrophy.

A report on the ’Mets Tes Baskets’ campaign organised at La Hève college in St Adresse (76) was broadcast, in order to remind the ambassadors of the core values ​​of the campaign. Sylvie Bourse, professor of physical education and sports, then testified to  multiple contributions for the campaign, both for students and teachers.

Young ambassadors attending the ceremony

A musical finale

To end the ceremony on a festive note, two singers performed on stage. Maximilien Philippe, godfather of ELA who was also aware of leukodystrophies when he was in college and made it public knowledge by participating in the show The Voice in 2014, and performing his hit “Simply”.

The students then welcomed Souf, godfather of ELA, who sang his flagship song “Mi Amor”, which has garnered more than 121 million views on YouTube.

After these two performances, the sponsors present took to the stage to sing along with the students of the Jean Lurçat college choir the song “For the children of ELA”.

The students then went outside to take the traditional group photo in front of the Géode. A buffet was then served to them, which was an opportunity for them to meet the sponsors and families of ELA, and to interact with other ambassadors from all over France.