Other Awards and Winners


2015 Wild About Humor Award Recipient: Cancer Treatment Centers of America

We congratulate Cancer Treatment Centers of America as the esteemed recipient of the 2015 AATH Wilde About Humor Award. CTCA has made a strong impression with its groundbreaking approach to integrating therapeutic laughter exercises into the Mind-Body Medicine Program for treating cancer. A longtime supporter of AATH’s mission to promote healthy humor and a major sponsor of our international Humor Academy program, CTCA is a generous and forward-thinking company with which we are proud to be aligned.

Background on the Wilde About Humor Award

Larry Wilde

The Wilde About Humor Award is granted annually for our professional association to recognize a company, organization, or system that enthusiastically demonstrates the utilization of applied and/or therapeutic humor in the world of business. This utilization may come via any or all of the following: Leadership, Marketing, Advertising, Customer Service, and/or Corporate Culture. Humor that decreases stress, sparks creativity, builds self-esteem, strengthens productivity, builds relationship and rapport, fosters a sense of inclusiveness, makes employees and staff feel good about themselves!

The award is named for television actor, motivational speaker, and best-selling author Larry Wilde. He is recognized as one of the nation's leading authorities on ways to improve life with laughter. As a stand-up comedian for over 30 years, Larry has appeared in major nightclubs, Las Vegas showrooms, and at concerts around the U.S. A partial list of the performers with whom he has shared the bill include Debbie Reynolds, Ann-Margret, Rosemary Clooney, Jack Jones, Andy Williams, Vikki Carr, Pat Boone, Wayne Newton, Sonny & Cher, McGuire Sisters and Gordon McCrae, among others. His television credits include several appearances on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Sanford & Son, Rhoda, the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and a host of other sit-coms.Larry is also the author of 53 published books of humor. With sales of over 12 million copies, The New York Times calls him "America's Best-Selling Humorist." Larry is in great demand as a motivational speaker and appears nationwide for Fortune 500 companies, associations, and healthcare professionals.

PAST Wilde Award Winners

2011 Wilde About Humor Award Winner:

Red Robin Restaurants. AATH thus acknowledges our appreciation for the fact that one of their proudly declared corporate values is: Fun. From their company statement: “Fun infuses everything we do. It's a bit rebellious for a big company to admit, but fun is what keeps us vibrant, fresh and always willing to seek out and learn new things.”

AATH also wishes to honor Red Robin's expressed values of “respect for our fellow team members [employees] and celebrating the individuality of each and every guest,” and their serious and effective efforts to reduce their environmental impact - truly a challenge for any large food service-oriented company. At Red Robin's restaurants, the wait staff wear the company's fundamental values of “Honor, Integrity, Knowledge and Fun” declared on their shirtsleeves. Another admirable program is their “Unbridled Acts®” where employees are encouraged to perform random (and deliberate) acts of kindness and charity directed to make a contribution to the community. AATH members who have visited the company's 400 restaurants praise the fact that at Red Robin they “walk their talk” and make every effort to assure that every guest has an experience filled with humor, laughter, playfulness… and of course, Fun.

2010 Wilde About Humor Award Winner:

  • First Place: Kaiser Permanente
  • First Runner-up: Poarch Creek Indian Health Dept.
  • Second Runner-up: rL Solution

Please submit the company's name and a brief description of why they are deserving of this award to staff@aath.org.  Nominations may also include support materials such as print (ads, collateral, etc.) and electronic examples (CD, DVD) that convey the essence of the nominee's utilization of applied and/or therapeutic humor* in the world of business.  Mail support materials to the AATH office at 220 East State St., FL G, Rockford, IL 61104  c/o AATH Awards.



The Esther Hyatt "Spirit of AATH" Award was created to honor those like Esther, who actively demonstrates good humor, grace, verve and a spirit of determination in the face of life’s many challenges.”

Ester Hyatt attended her first AATH conference in 2008. Although dealing with severe pain, she found relief with the laughter and joy experiences with her AATH friends. Her ability to laugh through the many challenges in life, and her dedication to AATH led to the creation of the Spirit of AATH Award. Esther was the first recipient of this Spirit of AATH Award given in 2011 at the AATH Orlando conference. Before failing health curtailed her travels, Esther also attended our annual conferences in Chicago and San Diego. Esther Hyatt passed away peacefully in the early morning og October 6, 2015. Her estate bequeathed a generous gift for AATH that will be used for future scholarships. Her friends in AATH are forever grateful for the shared laughter and joy that Esther shared with AATH. 

The Esther Hyatt "Spirit of AATH" Award was created to honor those like Esther, who actively demonstrates good humor, grace, verve and a spirit of determination in the face of life’s many challenges.”


In 2013, Beth Usher was the honored recipient of this award. Two years later at the 2015 AATH conference in Philadelphia, Beth gave the closing keynote. Those present will never forget her spirited enthusiasm for life as she brought down the house with laughter.  






In 2016 the award was presented to honoree Barbara Grapstein.
Barbara Grapstein is someone who actively demonstrates good humor, grace, verve and spirit of determination in the face of life's many challenges. Barbara Grapstein is the founder and CEO of Healing Headbands Project Inc. As a Global Laughter Ambassador, Certified Laughter Leader and Laughter Yoga Instructor, Barbara's passion is her never-ending devotion to helping others through philanthrophy, complemented by her entrepreneurial spirit. Barbara has completed the highest AATH Humor Academy course as a Certified Humor Professional (CHP). Her Level II project was the Healing Headband project in which she creates artwork on headbands with children who have cancer. The purpose of her project was to inspire and integrate laughter with the arts, while developing a healing mindset.



The Humor Academy Making a Difference Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to AATH’s Humor Academy.  Recipients of this award are selected by the Humor Academy Directors for those who go above and beyond in support of the Humor Academy program.

In 2016, Shirley Trout was honored as the first recipient of this award by the founder of the Humor Academy Director, Mary Kay Morrison, at the Knox Family Humor Academy Peace Luncheon.

Shirley Trout, PhD, CHP, CLYL, had the good fortune of being raised in a family known for bonding through laughter and using humor to keep problems in perspective. She attended her first AATH conference in 1996 and began serving on the Board of Directors in 1998, including as President from 2003 to 2005. During her presidency, her association leadership served as a unique “practicum” for her PhD in Leadership. Shirley initiated the idea of an education program for AATH while she was president, sparking the idea of the Humor Academy. Shirley has written and designed a number of books and chapters on therapeutic humor, as well as incorporated humor into numerous curriculum projects and youth performances. She is an AATH Humor Academy, Certified Humor Professional (CHP).



The Notable Newbie Award was first presented in 2016, The Award recognizes a relatively new member who has 'jumped in with both feet' to make a very real contribution to the association.

The 2016 AATH Notable Newbie Award honored AATH member, Cindy Miles.

Cindy Miles presented her groundbreaking research at the 2014 AATH conference titled: "Laughter Yoga as an Evidence-Based Disease Prevention/Healthy Promotion Program." She served as a Humor Academy Advisor and student in 2015-16, and on the 2016 conference planning committee.

In addition to her work for AATH, Cindy is a Family Caregiver Resource Coordinator for the Southwestern Commission Area Agency on Aging, a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and Laughter Ambassador with Laughter Yoga International University. She is a respected trainer for professionals within the continuum of aging services, as Certified Laughter Yoga Leaders. Cindy has presented at conferences and has provided therapeutic laughter workshops and retreats. She completed a multi-state research project, which resulted in North Carolina’s approval of Laughter Yoga as a Title III-D Evidence-Based Disease Prevention/Health Promotions Program. This research was later published by the peer-reviewed journal, “Advances in Mind Body Medicine.”



This award has been created in of memory Ruth Wiltz,mother of 2015-17 AATH President Mary Kay

Morrison. Ruth had crocheted her entire life. When she developed Alzheimer’s disease, she continued to create pieces that were not exactly identified as functional, but were whimsical items that generated laughter and love. Dubbed "Doily Lama", many of these were sold as a fundraiser for AATH in 2015.

Selected by the President, the recipient of the award is given to someone in AATH who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills in some or all of the following categories: creating innovative programs that motivate and inspire members; encouraging and supporting other members through mentoring and/ or coaching; providing tireless volunteer hours to complete AATH projects; and demonstrating a boundless sense of humor, laughter and fun.

AATH was pleased to honor Kathy Laurenhue and Laurie Young with the first annual Doily Lama Leadership Award in 2016.


Kathy Laurenhue, past AATH board member and founder of the AATH on-line store. Kathy was instrumental in updating the AATH resource pages. Kathy is an AATH C.H.P. Graduate, served as an AATH Humor Academy advisor and an AATH Humor Academy director. She has supported students with their Humor Academy Level II projects and has been a presenter for AATH. Kathy is the CEO of Wiser Now, focusing on the field of aging for clients in the U.S. and Australia.



Laurie Young, past AATH board member and founder/editor of the AATH Humor Voice. She was instrumental in updating the AATH resource pages. Laurie served as an AATH Humor Academy advisor and is an AATH - C.H.P. Graduate. She is a professor at Western Michigan where she teaches an on-line Humor Studies class. Laurie has been a frequent presenter for AATH teaching skills such as juggling.




Created to recognize those who have contributed to our knowledge and understanding of the many roles humor plays in our lives. Because of the very nature of the subject, it is difficult sometimes for the researcher to be taken seriously, and therefore, to get adequate funding and support. It is hoped that this award will help give the individual recipients, as well as the field of Humorology, the recognition they so richly deserve.

1989 Dr. Lee Berk
altDr. Lee Berk has a strong background in the field of psychoneuroimmunology. He is a pioneer medical researcher and recognized for his studies on positive lifestyle behaviors (eustress) with humor associated mirthful/laughter and the initial research with endorphins and immune modulation with exercise. He has done research on music, religion and spirituality, and anticipatory perception with their effects on stress hormones, neuroendocrine and immunomodulation --- since the early 1980’s. Dr. Berk’s research examines the positive emotions and their biochemical/physiological effects to the whole-person through the field of psychoneuroimmunology. He is currently the Director of the Clinical Molecular Research Laboratory in the School of Allied Health Professions, Associate Director of the Cardiovascular and Physical Fitness Lab., Associate Professor in the School of Allied Health Professions, Research Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Human Anatomy, School of Medicine and Faculty in Graduate Studies at Loma Linda University, California.

1988 Dr. Avner Ziv
altDr. Ziv was a widely published author, the founder of the International Conference on Jewish Humor, and a visionary. He was a Professor of Educational Psychology at Tel Aviv University in Israel and was a major early contributor to humor studies. He passed away on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at the age of 82.

Dr. Ziv’s dream was to build a center for humor research in a university setting, which would have a collection of humor books, articles, papers and dissertations on humor, all to help facilitate the productive, therapeutic use of humor.

His acceptance speech centered around the story of how he became interested in researching humor. During one of the many wars Israel has had, a team of researchers was called upon to study the effects of the stress on the children at various Kibbutzim. Ziv was one of the researchers.

After all the psychological tests had been administered and calculated, they found that two of the Kibbutzim had children who were experiencing far less stress than any of the others, even though the number of bombings near them was the same. Upon investigation, they found that at both sites the children clung to an older child (approximately 13-14 years old), and that in each case, the so-called “magnet child” had a quality completely overlooked by the researchers: a sense of humor. “He makes me laugh—even when the bombs are dropping,” one girl told Ziv.

“I started to study the values of humor during stress because of the war. But now the war is over, and I keep studying it – I just can’t stop myself,” he told the audience.

September 24, 1988
Toronto, Canada
1st Annual Meeting of AATH held concurrently with the Laughter & Play Conference