Harrison Ford honored at Indianapolis Prize Gala

In this Nov. 5, 2017, file photo, Harrison Ford poses in the press room at the Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - People from around the world gathered downtown Saturday night to celebrate champions of our planet saving animals from endangerment and extinction.

One of the most recognizable award recipients at this year's Indianapolis Prize gala was Harrison Ford.

He's known to most of us as an accomplished actor, but Ford is also a vocal ambassador for conservation.

"Protecting nature is how we will continue to survive on this planet," Ford said. "Protecting nature is first and foremost for me a moral imperative. Yet saving nature is really about saving ourselves."

At the JW Marriott, Ford joined his close friend, 2018 Indianapolis Prize winner Russ Mittermeier. They reminded the gala crowd that nature doesn't need people, people need nature.

Ford himself was honored as the Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador.

He called that honor incredibly humbling.

Ford told our John Stehr we must maintain a livable earth because it's the only home we're ever going to know.

It's personal for him.

And he says, it should be for all of us.

"It is a global challenge. We're all responsible and we've got to enjoy we meet the moral challenge of saving the world for generations to come," Ford said.

Ford told the crowds that he developed his own love for science and the natural world growing up in Chicago - at the zoo, at museums in biology class and at Boy Scout camp.

He says fame in Hollywood allowed him to financially support his passion for the planet. Now, he'd like to see conservation and the challenge of climate change embraced by everyone.

"Science is telling us there is a challenge of global climate change. It's telling us that a certain amount of that change is being precipitated by the weight of human population. We have to confront and deal with this issue or we're not going to be able to live here," Ford said. "We don't have any time to waste."

One of the missions of the Indianapolis Prize is to empower people and communities to advance conservation.

Friday night, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m., you can watch WTHR's hour-long special, "Champions of our Planet - the Indianapolis Prize gala," on Channel 13.