Sesame Workshop honored former first lady Michelle Obama with the Joan Ganz Cooney Award and celebrated Sesame Street’s 50 years of helping kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder at their 50th Anniversary Benefit Gala on Wednesday in New York.
The evening was hosted by Today show’s Hoda Kotb and featured a performance by John Legend (watch above), plus special guests Chrissy Teigen, Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Oliver and the Sesame Street Muppets.
The event raised more than $4.5 million, which will go to help Sesame Workshop continue to deliver on its mission to help children everywhere.
Sesame Street co-founder Cooney joined Miranda to present Mrs. Obama with the award. “When I became first lady, and I knew that I wanted to help kids reach their potential, my first question was a simple but familiar one: Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?” Obama said. “I cannot tell you how proud and thankful I am to come here tonight as a Sesame Street partner. You are always ahead of the curve, always out there observing, and learning, and creating new ways to help kids and parents navigate the world around them.”
Julia Stasch, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, said their historic $100 million award aims to help Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee bring early childhood education to children affected by refugee crises. LEGO Foundation CEO John Goodwin accepted the Innovation Award for their commitment to support displaced children through the power of playful learning.
The event also honored the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which were some of the first funders of Sesame Street in the 1960s.
The night finished with the Sesame Street classic “Sing.” Watch below: