(CNN)Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick are being honored as 2020 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope award laureates.
The award is given out to leaders who use their platforms for good and demonstrate a commitment to social change, the organization's website says.
The announcement comes after Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become one of the leading voices in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kaepernick, who famously began kneeling during the national anthem prior to the start of NFL games in 2016, receives the award as athletes around the US continue to kneel in protest against racial injustice. He is now a human rights activist and the co-founder of the multi-city civil rights program Know Your Rights Camp.
"In 2017, I was in the audience honoring Mr. Harry Belafonte as he accepted the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award," Kaepernick said in a release. "I am humbled to follow the footsteps of individuals like Mr. B and to be in the company of all the other laureates. Thank you for this prestigious award."
Joining Fauci and Kaepernick as 2020 Ripple of Hope award recipients are Dolores Huerta, president and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation; Paypal president and CEO Dan Schulman; and DocuSign CEO Dan Springer.
Past Ripple of Hope laureates include Barack Obama, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis.
"Our country is yearning for leadership, for moral fortitude, for common decency and kindness, and this year's Ripple of Hope laureates give us great hope for the future," said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
"Their work for equal justice touches every corner of society, sometimes at great personal cost. We are deeply honored to celebrate these changemakers, who have set forth countless ripples of hope at a time when our world is in such need of inspiration."
The ceremony is typically held in person, but the gala this year will be hosted virtually on December 10 in honor of National Human Rights Day.