Leslie Moore, a senior missionary for LDS Church Public Affairs in Sydney, Australia, first heard of Scott Neeson at a synagogue when a Jewish rabbi equated his story with Joseph of Egypt.
“We sat there in disbelief at what (Neeson) had done, and said he would be a good candidate for the ‘Standing for Something’ award,” Moore said.
The Standing for Something award, which is presented by The Churc of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints h in Australia, originated with John Simpson Kirkpatrick, an Australian who saved the lives of injured soldiers fighting in Gallipoli, Turkey, in World War I. Kirkpatrick traveled up and down a shrapnel-laden alley on his donkey, looking for injured soldiers and saving more than 300 in a period of 24 days.
He eventually was killed by hostile fire, but to this day, he’s honored as the inspiration for the award.
“We just give this award to people who are not of our faith that stand for our values,” Moore said. “Neeson has an unbelievable story of what our church is a proponent of.”
Neeson is the executive director of Cambodian Children's Fund. His philanthropic efforts in Cambodia, as detailed on the website cambodianchildrensfund.org, began after 26 years working in the film industry and a stint as president of 20th Century Fox International.
He was set to become president of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2003 when he took a sabbatical through Southeast Asia. Neeson visited Phnom Penh’s garbage dump Steung Meanchey, a "home and workplace for several thousand of the region’s most impoverished and neglected children," according to cambodianchildrensfund.org. "Unwilling to walk away, Neeson set upon a path to find better lives for these children."
Cambodian Children’s Fund has established four boarding schools, three satellite schools and a community center that provides day care, nursery, a free medical clinic and shelter.
The award will be presented Oct. 26 at a stake center in Australia during a young single adult fireside. Elder Andrew O’Riordan of the Quorum of the Seventy will preside.
Previous recipients of the award include Leigh Caldwell, founder of Happy Feat, a dance group for people with disabilities; and Dr. Ann O’Neill, co-founder of AngelHands, which provides support for those affected by violent crime.
“I know the Lord’s hand is in this,” Moore said. “I think it’ll be so great for all of Australia and for church members.”