Comedian Jon Stewart was honored Friday night with a humanitarian award in Garden City, along with two first responders who fought for health benefits to treat 9/11-related illnesses.
Stewart was given the award along with FealGood Foundation founder John Feal during a ceremony and banquet at the Nassau County Firefighters Museum in Garden City.
Stewart and Feal were honored alongside retired FDNY firefighter and ex-East Meadow Fire Capt. Ray Pfeifer, who is battling Stage 4 cancer after having worked at Ground Zero.
Stewart, Pfeifer and Feal lobbied last year for the passage of a law covering 75 years of first responder health benefits and five years of compensation for 9/11 related illnesses.
The Daily Show host had championed the cause with firefighters in 2010, before the James Zadroga Act was first passed, and again last year to get the bill permanently renewed for the lifetime of 9/11 workers.
On Friday night, Stewart spoke about the Senate going on recess during Christmas, while firefighters accepted it as an honor to stay on duty during that holiday to protect the community.
“I thought that was a real moment of separation for those we were fighting for to get benefits for first responders,” Stewart said. “When trouble is happening, there’s one group of people that runs away from it. There’s another group of people that run toward it.”
“We can’t take that for granted. Because that is not a common quality. We must take care of that in this country,” Stewart said. “It’s a shame and a tragedy when those individuals have to go down to Congress hat in hand to ask to fight for something they got because of their heroism. When we take it for granted, someday it’s not going to be there when we need it.”
The museum also honored grocery-store entrepreneur Stew Leonard Jr. for his charity work on water safety.