10/21/1997 AT 12:00 AM EDT
Richard Gere, 51, has been given an award for his dedication to freeing Tibetans from Chinese rule, reports the Associated Press. The award was named for former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Gere said he could feel her spirit at the ceremony, which took place Sunday at her Hudson Valley cottage. "I feel very strongly . . . how her spirit ripples through us without even having seen her," the Associated Press quoted him as saying. Gere, a Buddhist, was one of five recipients of the 13th annual Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal. Other recipients included Brazil's first lady, Ruth Cardoso, and opera singer and activist Jessye Norman.