An Award

I don’t like tooting my own horn, but I can’t resist doing it a little bit here. I recently received an award that meant a great deal to me. I received an ‘outstanding achievement award’ from three venerable institutions jointly, Columbia University, Cornell, and the American Psychiatric Association—for service, in my work with mentally ill adolescents, and the prevention of suicide. I have been engaged in that work through our foundation (The Nick Traina Foundation), since the death of my son Nick, by suicide, as a result of his having bi polar disease. I wrote a book to honor him, after his death, and share our experiences, and with the proceeds of the book, I established the foundation. We are also committed to the prevention of child abuse.

I don’t usually accept awards, because I don’t like giving speeches. When the kids were younger, I was busy with them at home, so I didn’t accept awards for my work, where I’d have to travel to other cities. And I’m a very shy person. The idea of standing up in front of a group of people and having to make a speech turns me to Jell-O. As I used to say, I’d rather cut my liver out with an ice pick than make a speech. That bad!! And if people give you an award, they expect a speech.

Since my son Nick’s death, I have given about a dozen speeches, or maybe more like 6 or 7, about mental illness or suicide prevention. The first speech I ever gave, on that subject, shortly after his death, was to the US Senate, about the prevention of teen suicide. I nearly fainted I was so terrified. But I got through it. My kids came to support me. It was really scary, but I was glad I did it.

So, I was honored by the three institutions I mentioned. They gave an event at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and surrounded by my children and a few friends, I went to get the award. And as always, I was really nervous. They were very nice to me, and made a lovely speech about me. I choked up when I accepted the award and took one of my sons up to the podium with me, to give me courage. And I only said a few words to thank them. But I was so grateful and so touched and so honored. Receiving an award is humbling, I didn’t feel worthy of such an important honor. But it really touched me, and meant the world to me. It’s a very pretty crystal award and is now sitting on my desk. I am deeply grateful and very honored.

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16 Comments so far
  1. aude July 24, 2009 2:29 am

    Felicitation chère Danielle !
    Vous le meritez amplement .

  2. Nicole Theron July 24, 2009 3:35 am

    You are truly an inspiration to all of us keep up the great work!

  3. Mychelle July 24, 2009 8:51 am

    Congratulations Danielle on the well deserved award and your courage.

  4. Avanti July 24, 2009 12:23 pm

    I am so proud of you!!! you should be very proud of yourself, and it’s okay to toot your own horn every once in a while. I’ve known people who commited suicide and I’ve also been an abused child myself, and it really touches me that you are working so hard to help troubled adolescents. Keep up the good work and hope to hear from you soon.

  5. Christine July 24, 2009 12:28 pm

    I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you for your blog. It always makes me smile, and even when you’re talking about something horrible that’s happened, you write about it with graciousness and find some way to input a bit of hope. It’s like a hug for the soul.
    So thank you.

  6. M Smith July 24, 2009 6:20 pm


    Congratulations! I’m proud of you on behalf of any award!


  7. Lorraine July 24, 2009 6:59 pm

    You are an amazing lady and deserve so many awards. I can’t stop saying how much I admire the closeness of your family. I’m impressed you stood up to make a speech because you are so terrified of it! I would have fainted before I even got in the room! Congratulations on everything!

  8. Tina July 27, 2009 1:35 am

    Congratulations – you deserve it!

  9. Kimberly Bonano Alvarez July 28, 2009 1:51 pm

    I read His Bright Light when it first came out in hard cover… I don’t remember all the details of it, but I do remember how very hard you tried to save your son, Nick, always trying to make sure that there was someone with him at all times to protect him from himself…

    I, too, have a strong heart for kids enduring the teen years, as I was also suicidal in my teens… It really can be a rough time…

  10. kimmi July 28, 2009 6:41 pm

    A beautiful and most gracious post. Congrats on an award much earned and deserved.

  11. Susan Wiggs July 28, 2009 10:50 pm

    So wonderful and well deserved. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Kristen July 29, 2009 2:03 pm

    Congratulations. That is wonderful news. I just finished one of your books (I read them all and I can’t think of the title…ah, ROGUE)and I just want to say that I honestly and unabashedly love your writing. You write with such ease (whether or not that is how it happens or not I don’t know…but that is how they read) and I truly can escape and simply indulge. It’s like eating chocolate or having a massage. Pure bliss. Thank-you.

  13. Tamy July 30, 2009 9:25 am

    Eu admiro muito seu trabalho e sou completamente apaixanada por seus livros.
    Parabéns pelo blog e que Deus possa abençoar cada vez mais o seu dom.

  14. Joann August 4, 2009 5:57 pm

    Sorry I am late with this comment, but you have been an inspiration to me for many years. I wish I had an award to present to you myself. You are so much to so many people and you deserve many awards. Congratulations on your award, Danielle. You deserve it all. And just remember what the Wizard said.
    “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”
    You are loved a lot…

  15. Taima McDonald Pizey September 5, 2009 2:53 pm

    Hi Danielle,
    Wow, how is that i almost forgot what i was going to say, anyway after just reading the piece that you wrote regarding the award you recently achieved i personally would like to say that it is greatly deserved.
    I have been a fan for years & eagerly await your new releases ( more often than not your books have kept me sane), i have myself been writing for years ( mainly poetry) & i have always been told that i do indeed have a real talent & should seriously consider the idea of trying to get some of my work published.
    The thing is i am in truth absolutely terrified to do so, ( my poetry is mainly about survival after abuse, domestic-violence & my fourteen year old sons fight with Aspergers syndrome).
    I have been working on a portfolio for quite sometime now & would like to know what you think i should do!

  16. Shalini Saigal Taneja September 7, 2009 3:25 am

    Congratulations!! You’re wonderful!!