GREENVILLE, S.C. — USA Network has selected Elke Kennedy, activist and mother of 2007 hate crime victim Sean Kennedy, for their 2010 Character Unite Award.

Elke Kennedy seen here at a June 2007 vigil for her son Sean and vowed to work for legislation to combat hate crimes.

Kennedy sprang into action following her son’s death in 2007, holding vigils and organizing other community events to raise awareness on South Carolina’s lack of LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation. Her work led to the founding of Sean’s Last Wish, a foundation dedicated to raising awareness of hate crimes and tocombating hatred, bullying, violence and bigotry. Kennedy has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles and spoke to LGBT community events and organizations across the country. In 2007, qnotes named her our first Person of the Year.

Kennedy will receive the award, one of eight to be presented this year, on Jan. 15 at a ceremony at Greenville’s Embassy Suites Hotel. The award comes with a $5,000 grant to help continue her work and is being acknowledged online at and on-air and in a special Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring Reshma Shetty, star of the USA Network hit series ROYAL PAINS. Nominations for the Characters Unite Awards were submitted by the public on

In addition to the awards, USA Network’s Characters Unite Month includes: the original documentary “Tom Brokaw Presents Bridging the Divide”; on-air promotion and Public Service Announcements (PSAs); extensive digital content, such as the new Facebook-based game “Social Circle”; star-studded community storytelling events and education workshops in partnership with The Moth; and a new national poll.

— Compiled from release