Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Who's your CNN Hero of the Year?

By Kyle Almond, CNN
November 28, 2012 -- Updated 2049 GMT (0449 HKT)
Pushpa Basnet was shocked to learn that children in Nepal were <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/15/world/cnnheroes-basnet-nepal-prisons/index.html'>living in prisons with their parents</a>. In 2005, she started a children's center that has provided housing, education and medical care to more than 140 children of incarcerated parents. "I always had a dream to build our own home for these children, and I want to rescue more children who are still in prisons," Basnet said. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/26/world/cnnheroes-prison-children/index.html' target='_blank'>See more photos of Pushpa Basnet</a>, who was voted <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/02/world/cnnheroes-show/index.html'>CNN Hero of the Year</a> for 2012. Pushpa Basnet was shocked to learn that children in Nepal were living in prisons with their parents. In 2005, she started a children's center that has provided housing, education and medical care to more than 140 children of incarcerated parents. "I always had a dream to build our own home for these children, and I want to rescue more children who are still in prisons," Basnet said. See more photos of Pushpa Basnet, who was voted CNN Hero of the Year for 2012.
HIDE CAPTION
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The CNN Hero of the Year will be announced Sunday night at the annual Heroes tribute show
  • That person will get an additional $250,000 to continue their work helping others
  • You can decide who gets that money: vote online or from your mobile device

(CNN) -- Time is just about up to cast your vote for CNN Hero of the Year and help someone change the world.

Voting ends by the end of the day Wednesday (11:59 p.m. PT), a few days prior to Sunday's live telecast of "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute."

The annual tribute show, hosted by Anderson Cooper in Los Angeles, recognizes the top 10 CNN Heroes -- everyday people doing extraordinary things to better the lives of others.

Each of the top 10 gets $50,000 to continue their work, but the Hero of the Year will get an additional $250,000. Who will that person be? You can help decide by voting on cnnheroes.com or your mobile device.

"CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" airs live around the world Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Celebrities scheduled to appear include actresses Susan Sarandon, Maria Bello and Viola Davis; actors Harvey Keitel, Rainn Wilson and Josh Duhamel; hip-hop artist 50 Cent; and athletes Jeff Gordon and Cullen Jones. R&B singer Ne-Yo and "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips will be performing live during the show.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012:

Pushpa Basnet
Pushpa Basnet was shocked to learn that children in Nepal were living in prisons with their parents. In 2005, she started a children's center that has provided support, such as housing, education and medical care, to more than 140 children of incarcerated parents.
Did you know ... Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to UNICEF, 55% of the population lives below the international poverty line. It lacks the social safety net that exists in most Western nations. Space is extremely limited in the few children's homes affiliated with the government.
In her words: "It's not fair for (these) children to live in the prison, because they haven't done anything wrong. My mission is to make sure no child grows up behind prison walls."
Donate to the Early Childhood Development Center

Wanda Butts
Wanda Butts lost her son in a drowning accident six years ago. In his memory, she started the Josh Project, a nonprofit that has helped nearly 1,200 children in Ohio -- most of them minorities -- learn how to swim.
Did you know ... According to USA Swimming, 70% of African-American children cannot swim, compared with nearly 60% of Hispanic children and 42% of white children.
In her words: "The joy on the faces of those children -- when they see that they can learn, once they get it -- they are so happy with themselves. And it's like all of them are my children. It's like I didn't lose my son."
Donate to the Josh Project

Mary Cortani
Mary Cortani is a former Army dog trainer who started Operation Freedom Paws, a nonprofit that helps war veterans train their own service dogs. Since 2010, she has worked with more than 80 veterans who have invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Did you know ... Of the more than 2 million U.S. troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since October 2001, it's estimated that one in five is likely to be afflicted by PTSD or major depression, according to the RAND Corp.
In her words: "When a veteran trains their own service dog, there are immediate benefits right off the bat. They have a mission and a purpose again. It gives them something to focus on and to complete. It gives them a sense of security and safety. ... They know they're not alone. They've always got their buddy at the end of the leash."
Donate to Operation Freedom Paws

Catalina Escobar
Catalina Escobar is helping young moms in Colombia, where one in five girls ages 15 to 19 is or has been pregnant. Since 2002, her foundation has provided counseling, education and job training to more than 2,000 teenage mothers.
Did you know ... Escobar's program also helps mothers find jobs or scholarships so they can continue their education at a trade school or university.
In her words: "You see these girls, (with) their tiny faces ... they're babies holding babies."
Donate to the Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation

Razia Jan
Razia Jan is fighting to educate girls in rural Afghanistan, where terrorists will stop at nothing to keep them from learning. In 2008, she opened the Zabuli Education Center. Today, she and her team are providing a free education to about 350 girls, many of whom wouldn't normally have access to school.
Did you know ... There were at least 185 documented attacks on schools and hospitals in Afghanistan last year, according to the United Nations. The majority were attributed to armed groups opposed to girls' education.
In her words: "People are crazy. The day we opened the school, (on) the other side of town, they threw hand grenades in a girls' school, and 100 girls were killed. Every day, you hear that somebody's thrown acid at a girl's face ... or they poison their water."
Donate to Razia's Ray of Hope

Thulani Madondo
Thulani Madondo struggled as a child growing up in the slums of Kliptown, South Africa. Today, his Kliptown Youth Program provides school uniforms, tutoring, meals and activities to 400 children in the community.
Did you know ... Nearly 40,000 people live in Kliptown, a district in the largely black township of Soweto, South Africa. Generations of families have lived in these ramshackle homes just 15 miles from Johannesburg, the economic capital of the country.
In his words: "There are more than 10,000 children in the community, so working with 400 might seem like nothing. But if (they) are dedicated ... we can make a difference."
Donate to the Kliptown Youth Program

Leo McCarthy
In memory of his daughter, who was killed by a drunken driver in 2007, Leo McCarthy started Mariah's Challenge. The nonprofit gives college scholarships to teenagers who pledge not to drink while they're underage. Nearly $150,000 in scholarship money has been awarded.
Did you know ... Mariah's Challenge started in Butte, Montana, but it has expanded to other parts of the state as well as Idaho, Iowa, North Carolina and Washington state.
In his words: "Mariah is forever 14. I can't get her back, but I can help other parents keep their kids safe. We save one child, we save a generation, and that makes me encouraged to continue what we're doing every day."
Donate to Mariah's Challenge

Connie Siskowski
Connie Siskowski is helping young people who have to take care of an ill, disabled or aging family member. Since 2006, her nonprofit has provided assistance to more than 500 young caregivers in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Did you know ... A report released in 2005 by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the United Hospital Fund said there were at least 1.3 million caregiving youths, ages 8 to 18, nationwide.
In her words: "No child in the United States should have to drop out of school because of caregiving. These children suffer silently behind closed doors. ... They don't have the help and the support and the recognition that they need."
Donate to the American Association of Caregiving Youth

Scott Strode
After beating his addiction to drugs and alcohol, Scott Strode found support through sports. Since 2007, his nonprofit, Phoenix Multisport, has provided free athletic activities and a sober support community to more than 6,000 participants in Colorado.
Did you know ... Phoenix Multisport is named for the mythical bird that rises from its ashes.
In his words: "Life should be better once you get sober. (We want to) help people build a new life, a new self-image, and have fun without getting high."
Donate to Phoenix Multisport

Malya Villard-Appolon
Malya Villard-Appolon is a rape survivor dedicated to supporting victims of sexual violence in Haiti. In 2004, she co-founded KOFAVIV, an organization that has helped more than 4,000 rape survivors find safety, psychological support and/or legal aid.
Did you know ... Nearly 300,000 people still live in Haiti's "tent city" camps.
In her words: "After (the earthquake), the situation was inhumane and degrading. There was no security in the (displacement) camps. There was no food; there was no work. And now there is a rampant problem."
Donate to KOFAVIV

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 3, 2012 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
Pushpa Basnet supports children in Nepal so they don't have to live behind bars with their incarcerated parents.
December 7, 2012 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, so it lacks the social safety net that exists in most Western nations.
December 3, 2012 -- Updated 0755 GMT (1555 HKT)
Celebrities joined CNN in Los Angeles to honor the top 10 CNN Heroes of the Year.
December 5, 2012 -- Updated 1859 GMT (0259 HKT)
The top 10 Heroes of 2012 are working hard to make a difference in the world. You can help by donating to their causes through Google.
Get a glimpse into the world of this year's top 10 Heroes. By seizing the day, they're making a difference that lasts a lifetime.
December 7, 2012 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
This year's top 10 describe what the honor means to them and the causes they are so passionate about.
September 26, 2012 -- Updated 1515 GMT (2315 HKT)
For many girls in Afghanistan, the simple act of walking to school can be a life-threatening journey.
October 3, 2012 -- Updated 1209 GMT (2009 HKT)
Thousands of American children are responsible for taking care of a loved one, such as an ailing parent or sibling.
October 18, 2012 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Haiti's terror didn't end when the ground stopped shaking. Reports of rape have been all too common after the 2010 earthquake.
November 12, 2012 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
U.S. war veterans are finding peace and stability thanks to the calming influence of service dogs.
November 13, 2012 -- Updated 1816 GMT (0216 HKT)
Babies in Mississippi are less likely to reach their first birthday than babies in any other state. Why?
ADVERTISEMENT