New national award named for Alabama Broadway star Rebecca Luker

New national award named for Alabama Broadway star Rebecca Luker
Helena's Rebecca Luker fought ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. (contributed)
Rebecca Luker, right, with her husband, Danny Burstein.

A new award named in honor of Alabama native and three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker will spotlight people who have made a positive impact on the Lou Gehrig’s disease community over the past year.

Luker, a Broadway star for more than 30 years, died from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in December 2020 at the age of 59.

The Rebecca Luker Courage Award, given by Target ALS and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America will be announced in the fall. Nominations are open through Sept. 30 at

“I’m extremely proud that Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America and Target ALS chose to honor Rebecca with an award that recognizes individuals who are making a real difference in the lives of families affected by ALS,” said Danny Burstein, Luker’s husband and a seven-time Tony Award nominee (most recently for “Moulin Rouge!”). “Rebecca did everything she could while she was with us to raise awareness of ALS and funds for a cure. While we are heartbroken that the proper therapies and a cure weren’t discovered in time for Rebecca, knowing her legacy of advocacy will be honored this way brings great solace to our family.”

Target ALS earlier presented “Becca,” a musical tribute to Luker to benefit ALS research that raised $150,000.

“Because Rebecca’s story and courageous spirit resonates with so many, we, together with MTPA, were inspired to celebrate individuals making a difference in the fight against ALS,” said Manish Raisinghani, CEO of Target ALS. “We look forward to receiving entries and reading who the ALS community feels is deserving of this award. There are so many individuals making a difference.”

In addition to the main Courage Award, an Unsung Hero and up to three Awards of Recognition will be given. Criteria for the awards include innovation, collaboration, impact and reach.

Luker grew up in Helena and earned a degree from the University of Montevallo. She first appeared on Broadway in “The Phantom of the Opera” and followed that with acclaimed performances in shows such as “Show Boat,” “The Music Man,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Secret Garden.”

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