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CNN Heroes: 10th Anniversary Gala. Aired 8-10p ET

Aired December 11, 2016 - 20:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, this is the Tenth Annual CNN Heroes, an All-Star Tribute. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your hosts for the evening, Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Thanks so much. Welcome to CNN Heroes, an All-Star Tribute. This night is always special as we gather in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life here at the American Museum of Natural History in New York underneath the enormous whale, to honor ordinary women and men who are changing the world.

But tonight is extra special, not just because the amazing Kelly Ripa is here as my co-host --


-- but also because this is the tenth annual heroes show.

KELLY RIPA, CNN HOST: I love this night, and the heroes, and that is not just talk. I've been here three years in a row now, I'm practically your CNN Heroes wife.

COOPER: Which must be deeply unsatisfying for you.


RIPA: You'd be surprised.

COOPER: Really?

RIPA: You'd be surprised.

COOPER: All right.

RIPA: CNN has given this year's top 10 honorees $10,000 so they can continue their amazing work. And later on tonight --

COOPER: They can edit that part.

RIPA: -- one of the honorees will be named the 2016 CNN Hero of the Year, and they will receive an additional $100,000.


COOPER: This -- as we were saying, this is our tenth show, our tenth year. We have honored 159 heroes. We've been graced by more than 145 presenters, more than 25 musical performers over the years. That's 20 hours, 72,000 seconds of us celebrating what is good in this world. And we can't revisit every moment from the past 10 years, but take a look at some of the highlights.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't build statues to these people, we might not even notice them. But they don't care, what they do is who they are, just ordinary people, until they're heroes.

COOPER: Tonight you're going to meet real supermen and superwomen from across the globe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the heroes who walk among us, and we applaud their stories tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One person really can change this world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the only reality television that I absolutely love. This is like the academy awards for good people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A simple thing can change lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One woman working hard to bring hope to this world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A fearless young person trying to right a wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never give up and always believe. You're never too young to change the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is my hero, because one day he rolled a window down, and asked are you hungry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But even in the darkest of places, decency and passion and love can persevere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be no man left behind as long as we are this nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please join me --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the ninth (ph) --






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the biggest heart (ph) ever, CNN Heroes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My message to the world is very simple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May we all find the hero inside us, by reaching out to others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God is calling many of you to make the difference in people's lives. Do not be afraid, and never give up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Love, and support one another.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The work that I do, this is like the air that I breathe, so I can't stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless this country, thank you so much.



RIPA: Looks like I picked the wrong night to introduce glue-on eyelashes to the evening. I'm crying already. It's gonna to be a mess.

COOPER: I -- that makes me feel very insignificant (inaudible). Let's -- let's get started on this year's show. We're going to meet our first hero in Nashville, Tennessee. She created a place for women who struggled on the streets. To tell her story tonight is an ambassador of the Alicia Keys Charity Keep a Child Alive, and a proud supporter of City Year. Please welcome the stars of the upcoming film Hidden Figures, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer.


TARAJI P. HENSON, ACTRESS: Tonight, remember these two words, love heals. It just does. When Becca Stevens was 5, her father died, and soon after that tragedy, she experienced long-term abuse at the hands of a family acquaintance. She moved mountains to overcome that horror.

She persevered. She became a priest, a wife, and a mother. And when Becca saw a woman caught up in the cycle of prostitution, she sensed that that woman's life had started out in pain too.

OCTAVIA SPENCER, ACTRESS: So Becca launched a movement for women's freedom from the streets. It's called Thistle Farms. She created five beautiful and safe homes where women could come and stay for free for two years. In that time, they mend their bodies and their souls. They build self worth, and a business, by making bath and body care products. More than 200 women have been transformed because of Becca and these two words. Love heals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BECCA SPENCER, FOUNDER, THISTLE FARMS: Truthfully, I think it was my own abuse that gave me compassion for the women that I was meeting in the jails and on the streets. Those scars are deep, but it doesn't have to be the end of the story. All I wanted to do was say come stay for two years, no cost, and tell me what it is you need.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I walked the streets for over 20 years. I can remember just thinking that I'm going to die out here. When I walked in, it was absolutely gorgeous. It made me feel worthy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the day I got here, I immediately felt the love. The drugs took everything from me. Now I don't feel alone anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're changing who?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're changing ourselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This community helped to put me back together again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They sent me to therapy because of my excessive drug use, I had maybe eleven and a half teeth left in my mouth. So they sent me to the dentist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bring it in, girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whatever I needed, they did it for me.

STEVENS: The women that we were serving were still dirt poor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm gonna pass it, you're gonna snap it.


STEVENS: It made perfect sense to me to make products that were about healing bodies, bodies that had been used and abused for so long.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The lavender and the peppermint, it calms you. I'm working hard for my own money, and it feels wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a bigger story to be told. It's how powerful love can be for healing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see people that I knew on the street, and they'll say is that you, Doris (ph)? And I'll say it's me.

STEVENS: We're just a community of women helping each other. When we come together and find our voice, it's powerful.



SPENCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please join us in honoring CNN Hero, Becca Stevens.


SPENCER: Congratulations. Thank you for all that you do.

STEVENS: I am standing here tonight barefoot, and I do that with compassion and solidarity for all the women who are still walking the streets.


STEVENS: And for all of the other people for years and years who have done this work, Thistle Farms is just hitting its stride, and we welcome you into the circle of hope for survivors. You can abuse women, you can exploit them, you can jail them, you can prostitute them, but you cannot kill hope in them.

Women recover, women heal. And we don't have to leave anyone behind. Love is the most powerful force for change in the whole world. Thank you, CNN. I love you, Levi, Caney, Moses, and we've got a lot more work to do. Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming up next, Diane Lane, and later, Neal Patrick Harris.


COOPER: Welcome back to CNN Heroes. Tonight we're doing something new. Not only are we celebrating our top 10 honorees of 2016, we're actually showcasing five previous heroes of the year. CNN is recognizing all five of them for their incredible accomplishments that continue to embody the spirit of the CNN Heroes campaign.

RIPA: Each have also received $10,000, and we're asking you to choose which one should be honored later tonight as the tenth anniversary CNN superhero, and receive an additional $50,000 to carry on with their work.

COOPER: So here's how it's going to work.


COOPER: We are -- we're going to introduce you to them throughout the evening, to all five, but you can learn about them all right now watching at home and here in the room, and vote right now at Voting has actually been underway since Friday night. You can also vote on Facebook Messenger and on Twitter. All the details are at

RIPA: So let's meet our first one tonight, Liz McCartney was voted hero of the year in 2008 after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast. She packed up her life in Washington D.C. to help families rebuild in Louisiana. Since we met her, that community became her home, and she and her team have brought hope and healing to so many in need.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After CNN Heroes, Liz McCartney's non-profit went national.

LIZ MCCARTNEY, FOUNDER, SBP: The Heroes program helped us help so many more people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her group has now rebuilt homes in seven disaster stricken communities, including Baton Rouge, which suffered disastrous flooding in August. Liz has enabled almost 1,200 families to start again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It would have taken us years to move back in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go, and then bend it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got a call from Liz one day, and everything started falling into place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just like that, here you go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can move in in hopefully six to eight weeks.

MCCARTNEY: I never would have imagined that we'd still be here helping families get back home, but I feel very lucky to do it.



(RIPA): Ladies and gentlemen, Liz McCartney is with us tonight. Liz, stand up and take a bow.


(COOPER): So our next hero transformed his horse farm into a sanctuary for children. Here to share his story is the champion for Oceana, and its effort to restore the world's oceans, academy award nominated actress Diane Lane.


DIANE LANE, ACTRESS: You've just spent the last 40 years of your life working hard, it's time to retire, kick back on that front porch, smell the Carolina pines, and take in another sunset. Well, if you're 87-year-old Harry Swimmer, not so fast.

He met a family friend whose granddaughter lived with a disability. Harry invited her to his farm, put her on a horse, and her face lit up like a candle. And so did Harry's. He knew then, that retirement wasn't for him, and he started Mitey Riders.

For 20 years, he's provided free equine therapy to children with cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, autism, and other disabilities. These kids have defied the odds, because this one man heard that powerful calling, there's more work to do.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter has a condition called kernicterus. We're going to have such a fun birthday party. She doesn't communicate real well. She has these erratic muscle spasms, and sometimes has to have her arms strapped down.

It does not affect intelligence. She does know what she's missing. I think about our hopes and dreams for her. It would be great if her world could open up.

HARRY SWIMMER, FOUNDER, MITEY RIDERS: Every community has children with disabilities. A lot of these children have very little to look forward to. This is their place. Hi, pal. How's my boy? Ready to ride? We put them on a horse, and they ride like anybody else. What do you say now? Go on around, and go over the pole. Besides fun, it is therapy for them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm getting stronger and stronger.

SWIMMER: You are getting stronger and stronger. Just the other day, I had a little boy get off the horse and walk to his mother, taking his first steps, and it just (inaudible). This is what I wanted to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's been riding every week.

SWIMMER: Already there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Already. You take a kid who can't sit up even by herself.

SWIMMER: Oh, look at that smile.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we can put her on the horse, and she's suddenly the biggest thing in her environment.

SWIMMER: Was that cool? The smiles on their face is worth everything. This has become my life. (Inaudible). And I don't ever want to do anything else.



LANE: Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in honoring CNN hero Harry Swimmer.

SWIMMER: A most sincere thanks to CNN, and all those responsible for this enormous honor. The real heroes are the beautiful and courageous youngsters who come to us from all walks of life. I love them all. You know, if everyone lent a helping hand to those in need, we would take a giant step towards a more peaceful world. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next on CNN Heroes, Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, and later, Mia Treiber (ph), Edi Balco (ph), and Richard Gere.


RIPA: And we're back with CNN Heroes. Throughout the night, as you meet our top 10 honorees, go to and click on the Donate button to help support them. And while you're watching, you can also get involved on Facebook, Twitter, and visit us on Instagram to see exclusive behind-the-scenes photos.

COOPER: Our next hero overcame incredible odds growing up with a disability in one of the most impoverished areas of Cali, Colombia. Here to tell us his inspiring story is one of the members of the gold medal winning gymnastics team from the 2016 Olympics, and the current champion of Dancing with the Stars. Please welcome Laurie Hernandez.


LAURIE HERNANDEZ, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST GYMNAST: Believe me when I say this. You can achieve anything, and Jeison Aristizabal is here to prove that to us. When he was born, he had a difficult birth and lack of oxygen to his brain, causing permanent damage. For Jeison, it meant that he would grow up with cerebral palsy, a condition often shunned in his country.

But he had a spectacular mom. She took him everywhere, fought for him to go to school, and made him feel part of this world. That sense of self and belonging that Jeison wants every person to feel when they come to his center called Aristizabal.

It is a place where 480 kids with mental and physical disabilities can go and triumph. For 15 years, this one man filled with love, strength, and grace, has taken down terrible stereotypes, and built a place where dreams can come true.


JEISON ARISTIZABAL, FOUNDER, ARISTIZABAL (translated): When I was a child, a doctor told my mom that I would amount to nothing. Every year I would get surgery. I was completely dependent on my family, and that was very difficult for me. But my mom taught me to face challenges, and I learned that I would be able to accomplish everything I put my mind to.

I live in one of the poorest areas in Cali. Many children with disabilities here grow up with no type of opportunity, because families don't know how to take care of them. They think that it's God's punishment. It's very important to change that way of thinking.

I began doing therapy out of my parent's garage. The foundation now has its own location. We have therapy services, medical treatment, school. Our greatest interest is for the children to be happy. They sing, they play, they dance. We have transformed the lives of many children. The message I want to give people with disabilities is yes you can. Never give up. Always fight for your dreams.


HERNANDEZ: Please join me in honoring CNN hero Jeison Aristizabal.


HERNANDEZ: One day, fighting against my prognosis, I asked an existential question to god, why was I born with a disability?


HERNANDEZ: Today, I realize, god chose me to help children with disabilities and their families and build a chain of dreams. I am about to graduate as a lawyer, and I want to do more to change my country's laws.


HERNANDEZ: Open your hearts and join this beautiful work, too. There are many children hoping for your support.



RIPA: You know, you can't really see the CNN hero awards from your seats there or from your couches, but let me tell you that these awards our heroes receive every year are so gorgeous and so personal. And Anderson carves each and every one himself.

COOPER: It takes all year. It's true. Each one tells the hero's stories. They use words to describe their work and their spirit. They're each individualized and you can watch how they're made at CNN I do not, of course, actually make them.

RIPA: OK. I want to remind everyone to hop on their laptop or their phone right now and vote for the 10th annually CNN superhero. You can check out all five of the previous heroes of this year that we're recognizing tonight and vote for your favorite at CNN Now, in 2009, Efren Penaflorida was our hero of the year. He pulled together his young friends and form the dynamic teen company. Thousands of young volunteers being pushcart classrooms and education to poor children in the streets of the Philippines. His work has energized his country and changed lives.



RIPA: Being named CNN Hero of the Year made Efren Paenaflorida a national hero back home in the Philippines. A TV movie was made about his life, and he even got his own television show. But for Efren, the support for his mission meant the most. When we started this, people were laughing at us. That crazy idea have gone a long way. Today, his pushcart classrooms can be found all over the country. He's also built two education centers and a high school. The work Efren started when he was just 16 has now reached around 40,000 children.

PENAFLORIDA: We're never too young to give back to society. And one is never too ordinary to be a hero.



RIPA: Ladies and gentlemen, Efren Penaflorida.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next, Edward Norton honors a woman who helps young war refugees adjust to their new home in America. And still to come, a special performance by Idina Menzel. The 10th annual "CNN heroes All-Star Tribute," everyday people changing the world, is proudly sponsored by Astellas.



COOPER: Kelly keeps trying to get me to dance out, and I refuse to.

RIPA: I said we should do a kick ball change, kick ball change. I said, that would be amazing.

COOPER: I don't know what it means.

RIPA: I showed you what it means.

COOPER: I still don't know what it means.

RIPA: It's incredible.

COOPER: Welcome back to the 10th annual CNN Heroes, an All-Star Tribute. Now, as you watch tonight, if you want to support any of our top 10 heroes, we have extra incentive for you. One of our sponsors, Subaru, they are matching donations, dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 to each of their organizations when you donate through CrowdRise, which is the leading online site for charitable fundraising.


RIPA: You'll find the links to donate at And our next presenter is the founder of CrowdRise and the star of the upcoming film "Collateral Beauty." Please welcome Edward Norton.


EDWARD NORTON, AMERICAN ACTOR: Thank you. At CrowdRise, our motto is, if you don't give back, no one will like you. And it is true, really, because who inspires our deepest admiration, attraction, aspiration more than someone that we see devoting themselves to making the world a better place and caring for other people? That's -- that is It is sexier than any movie star, it's more heroic than any athletic feet, and also true that when we give back, we often get more than we gave.

Supporting, engaging with people like tonight's CNN heroes can transform our own spirits. It can widen our sense of the world, make us more optimistic about the world. You can plug into that positive feedback loop right now. Go to Click on the donate button. Act on that impulse to do something that these heroes inspire in us and help them change the world. Let's get to the end of the night and have every one of these heroes gotten the full match from Subaru. This is an incredible opportunity.


NORTON: And now, meet Luma Mufleh, she is one of our heroes doing extraordinary work, welcoming refugees into this country. And if you want to know how profoundly her work is built into our national ideals, 100 blocks towards south out in the harbor is a beautiful statue of a lady with a torch. At its base are these words, "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Luma came to America from Jordan and settled in Clarkston, Georgia, a city where many refugees and found their homes too.

One day, she played a pickup game of soccer with a group of young kids who just moved to the country. They spoke to her about their isolation, their academic hardship and fears. And so to help, she started a soccer team and then she opened a school. It's all called Fugees Family. And more than 800 young people have passed through its doors now. So to the tired, to the poor, the huddled masses, come. Come here. Luma waits for you with open arms to ensure you breathe free and thrive.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I first came to America, this girl told me to go back to my country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could not interact with other people because I could not understand English.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When people say that Muslims should leave the United States, it really hurts me.

LUMA MUFLEH, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, FUGEES FAMILY, INC.: They've been forced out of their home. They've all seen horrible atrocities. They come to the United States, they don't know the language, they don't know the culture. All right. You get four minutes at each one. Ready? We're going headers. Chan. Go. The one thing they understand is soccer. Nice. It's a universal language. It is a part of home that they can bring with them here. For kids that were robbed of their childhood, this is one place they get to be kids again. Good morning. Good morning. But their needs were so much more. I needed to look beyond the field. Good morning. Our school addresses their individual academic needs. So does this make sense now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. MUFLEH: OK. It creates a safe space for them. All people have feelings but they don't understand our pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to be patient.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't forget about like what we've been through.

MUFLEH: This year, the new influx of refugees is from Syria. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ) The trauma is just so fresh. The war is still going on and we're retraumatizing them by not welcoming them. It is heartbreaking.


MUFLEH: Possibly an 18.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I come to America last six months.

MUFLEH: Good job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coach Luma helped me feel my home here.

MUFLEH: We all know how much is stacked against them. As hard as we try to level, it's -- there is so much more work to be done. There you go. You're in. I'm trying to give them all the opportunities they deserve. There we go.


MUFLEH: The Fugees Family is the biggest mismatch of kids and ethnic groups and faiths, and isn't that what America is about? One, two, three. Go blue team.



NORTON: It's my enormous honor to present this award to CNN hero, Luma Mufleh.


MUFLEH: I say this as a new and proud U.S. Citizen, as a Muslim, and as a mentor, to refugee children who inspire me every day. Let us honor lady liberty and show America's heart. Let us remember immigrants make America great. Please help us give refugee boys and girls a new and a safe home by showing the kindness and compassion that's always defined us. They need your support now more than ever. Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next on CNN heroes, Neil Patrick Harris. There's still time to vote for the 10th anniversary CNN Superhero.



RIPA: And so we're back with the CNN Heroes. If you voted for the 10th anniversary CNN superhero, good for you. But if you haven't, you have to do it now.

COOPER: No. You don't have to do it right now. You can do it at any time during the broadcast.

RIPA: Do it right now. Do it right this second.

COOPER: Oh, yes. Before the show ends.

RIPA: Or we will utilize the microphones and sing and nobody wants that.

COOPER: All right. One of the superheroes is Robin Lim. She's -- in 2011, she was honored for her life-saving work assisting thousands of low income women in Indonesia, have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. Since then, she's used her money to build her dream center, where she is a midwife, a friend and still called mother Robin by the kids she helped bring into the world. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year, Robin Lim fulfilled her long-time vision when her group opened its new maternity clinic for women in need.

ROBIN LIM, FOUNDER, YAYASAN BUMI SEHAT HEALTH CLINICS: And now that we have a big enough space, we're able to do free ambulance service, ultrasound, nurses, and midwives present 24/7. Doctors every day. We help the people who are falling through the cracks and those mothers know they're going to get the same beautiful, loving service here as wealthy people get. It is all the same. I'm just so blessed to walk down the street and see the faces of these kids. Most of them I've seen them arrive into this world. And when they run up to me and hug me, just makes life worth living.



COOPER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, Robin Lim.


RIPA: Guys, check out this puppy. This is Marny. She's 15 years old. She used to be in a shelter, but she was adopted when she was 11 years old. Guys, she's an Instagram superstar. Look at her. Guys, she has two million followers. That's like a million more followers than I have. OK, that's like 100 million and a half more followers than I have. And where is the other baby? Is she coming? Oh, hi.

COOPER: All right. RIPA: Oh, hi.

COOPER: This is Sugarplum. She --

RIPA: Yes.

COOPER: I'm not kidding. She is seven. She is still looking for her forever home and we want to thank pup stars for letting us meet her tonight. Have you gone a tight shot though of Marny's face? Because -

RIPA: Have we seen Marny's face?

COOPER: -- I think she has been drinking. I don't know for sure but -

RIPA: She's just like, "I got two million followers, what's up?"

COOPER: OK. She's like, "I don't need to stick my tongue back in. I got two million followers."

RIPA: You should - you look adorable with that baby, you should take that baby home.

COOPER: Oh, Yes.

RIPA: You should take the baby.

COOPER: Nice. Put me on the spot. I know.

RIPA: All right. Let's find this -

COOPER: I can barely care for myself.

RIPA: Let's find the baby a nice home. Come on. Let's change your life too. I love senior dogs, I love a senior dog when they go -- when they get all gray and their soulful eyes look or crystal blue eyes looking with a certain amount of wisdom. Like they know things. They have seen things.

COOPER: Are you talking about dogs?

RIPA: Huh?

COOPER: Are you -- I think you found your next, you know, cohost right there.

RIPA: Cohost? Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I --

COOPER: Marny and Sugarplum.

RIPA: Yes.

COOPER: Our next hero rescues thousands of senior dogs in California. To share her story as a support of so many causes including red and god's love we deliver which brings nutritious meals to people too sick to cook themselves and star of a series of unfortunate events, Neal Patrick Harris.


RIPA: Go for it.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, AMERICAN ACTOR: Yes. Look at this. Can I just say off-script? I am so inspired and moved to be here tonight. This is unbelievable. You guys are doing this phenomenal.


HARRIS: There are a million reasons as to why senior dogs arrive at a shelter but there is one reason all of us should try to bring one home. Love. Am I right? Sherri Franklin experienced that love every time she took a senior dog for a walk at our local shelter in San Francisco. But the place was loud and cold and she thought that those dogs deserved better, dogs deserved better. Am I right?

Sherri started Muttville to provide a safe place where senior dogs receive care and are prepared for adoption. Since 2007, 4,000 dogs have found new homes. That's 4000. Slobbering kisses, hugs and drool covered tennis balls to these blessed creatures who is still love us, flaws and all.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't had a best friend ever in my whole life like Tiger. I love you. When we adopted him, everyone thought he would bite. But when I came in, he just came right up to me and I saw that spark in his eyes saying I don't bite. I just like barking. And like talking, so we were actually a perfect match together.

SHERRI FRANKLIN, FOUNDER, MUTTVILLE: Hi, cherry. Old dogs have so much to give. I'm going to spring you today. Let's go, mama. They know you are offering them that second chance. Let's get you in, OK? Hi, everybody. When an old dog in a shelter gets to Muttville, it's like woo-hoo. Our dogs get the gold treatment. Baby, it's Dexter. Yes. You're going to get groomed today, mama. We get them all fixed up. Oh, look at that. Does it feel better? And the adoption process will start right after they get cleaned up and vetted. Chulo's got a new mommy because he is getting adopted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need somebody to hug.

FRANKLIN: And he needs you to hug him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what just happened to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eventually they will die. Before they do, I want to give them a life that they can remember. I hope they will always stay with me in my heart.

FRANKLIN: These dogs have taught me so much. They've taught me about what is important. Love is important.


HARRIS: Join me in honoring CNN hero, Sherri Franklin.


FRANKLIN: First of all, a tongue like that, that's called the Muttville salute. I am so proud to be in the company of these inspirational people who saw something that needed to be done and went for it. When I started Muttville, senior dogs were routinely euthanized in every shelter. We're changing that. We believe that age should never be a death sentence. During this holiday season, there are over a million animals in shelters all over this country waiting for your love. Please adopt. Thank you, CNN.


RIPA: Hi again.

COOPER: Hello.

RIPA: So, this is what Anderson and I looked like back in middle school.

COOPER: Yes. That's the year before I went gray.

RIPA: Yes. I know. Were you a good student?

COOPER: You have a bow in your hair just like Sugarplum or --

RIPA: Sure. Yes. Sugarplum.

COOPER: Sugarplum.

RIPA: We are sisters from another mister. Literally. Were you a good student?

COOPER: I was, Yes. I was, Yes.

RIPA: Yes.

COOPER: I was often crying which is why I look soulful there. It's between meetings with my friends.


COOPER: Many schools have incorporated our CNN Heroes into their service curriculum. And as we celebrate the 10th Anniversary, it hardens us to know that our show is encouraging a whole new generation to become changemakers. Take a look.


BRIAN O'CONNOR, MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER: As a fifth grade SOL Studies teacher, I'm constantly wondering what am I going to do in here that these kids are going to remember and is going to help them down the road.

COOPER: Welcome the CNN Heroes and all-start tribute.

NORTON: I discovered the CNN Hero shows and I just kept thinking I need to show this to the kids in school. As you're watching think about what makes your heart feel good. Here we go. I've never had any specialized training in dealing with people with disabilities. But I know the bomb, ready? Reach.


NORTON: Reach, reach. You can't but be moved by the goodness just radiating off of these people. All right.


NORTON: Yes, you got it. Beautiful. So here's what we are going to do next. We are going to jot down as many of these awesome qualities that we noticed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Giving, aesthetic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hardworking, he's accepting.

O'CONNOR: He's so encouraging and so positive. But in terms of people with disabilities, what do you notice?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He treats them like everybody else but he also treats them like who they are.

O'CONNOR: Absolutely.

NORTON: Let me through Skype as a CNN Hero. They're beyond excited. Hello.

O'CONNOR: Oh my god. It's Ned Norton.

NED NORTON, FOUNDER, WARRIORS AND WHEELS: You would have thought they're excitement with Katy Perry.

O'CONNOR: You might be the most handsome CNN hero. I don't know what it is. I can't tell you're --

NORTON: The 10-year-olds were way curious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long did it take you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is it different?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you feel --

NORTON: The kids come up with amazing questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the first disabled person you worked out with, did you know you wanted to start your charity?

NORTON: You know, I kind of did.

O'CONNOR: They are hanging on every word.

NORTON: The coolest thing in the world is making a difference in someone else's life.

O'CONNOR: The CNN Heroes are regular people. And it's the best way to tell everyone in my class. This could be you.

NORTON: Thank you guys.

O'CONNOR: How awesome is he?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He thinks he's just a normal person which I respect but he is a hero.

O'CONNOR: So part of our homework is now going to be - let's try to be a little more like Ned Norton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN heroes are gold.



O'CONNOR: Educational.


O'CONNOR: It made our class in a better place, our school a better place. And I can only hope that it's going to make everywhere that they go a better place.



RIPA: I love (INAUDIBLE) Ladies and gentlemen, the teacher with one of the greatest classrooms around, Brian O'Connor.


[21:00:03] COOPER: Our next hero comes from Richmond, Virginia where nearly 10,000 residents lived in public housing. They tell us how one man found a way to transform the lives of some of the young people who live there is a proud supporter of the Covenant House which provides services to homeless and runaway youth. She was nominated for a Tony Award for the Broadway production of the "Color Purple."

RIPA: And is one the stars of "Orange is the New Black," Danielle Brooks.

DANIELLE BROOKS, ACTRESS: Thank you. How far would you go to change your life? There are kids in your city who experienced terrible tragedies, grown up with incredible hardship, struggled just to get back, what would you do? How far would you go? Craig Dodson answers that question this way, to the limit.

He was a semi-pro cyclist and started Richmond Cycling Corps, a racing club for kids who live in public housing. The practice saying the races, the bike art, all of that is the hook. For 20 kids in this city, he is the one who answers the 1:00 a.m. phone call when tragedy strikes and tracks a student down if they miss school. He is a mighty force of a pain in the neck goodness in order to help his kids bring change to their lives.


CRAIG DODSON, RICHMOND CYCLING CORPS: Life hasn't been easy for Jasmine. Out of the gate she didn't have a stable home life.

You have to get in the woods, all right. OK?

Stay positive. Run, run, run.

The number one thing with her is getting her to graduate.

Yeah, Jas, run your best way, come on.

She's the smartest kid we've got. But we don't know if she is going to make it or not.

You're looking at it like we have so much to do and say just look at what's in front of you. You don't want to quit. It's not really an option right now.

Three months ago, you got a kid that is failing with two years of course work to catch up on plus standardized tests.

Get it up, Jas. Finish it up.

The ability has been there. It's just -- she's put to quit.

So you're doing that thing where you are worried about them instead of what we're doing for you. That's the same thing as holding you back right now. Just do this for you. This is it.

We will not let her fail herself like that.

JASMINE NICOLE WALKER: I'm excited about my graduation where I come from not so many people. I'm happy for the place now, like I got Craig, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to our 142nd Commencement Ceremony.

DODSON: We've gone through this real film in your head of everything that happened, all the insanity that occurred for the past three years and then that moment happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jasmine Nicole Walker.

DODSON: It was almost surreal.

WALKER: (Inaudible) to accomplish my dreams to be successful is something that I can be what I want to be.

DODSON: Listen, today we'll speak (inaudible). I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be safe. I'll see you later on. I can have those two things brining of our kids. I'm sleeping pretty well tonight.


BROOKS: Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in honoring CNN Hero, Craig Dodson.

DODSON: I shouldn't have to be a hero, but the system failed these kids. If you want to fix the issues, you have to understand that these kids aren't some number in a research paper. They are brilliant. They are complicated and courageous. I implore you to not see past them. Roll up your sleeves, get in the trenches with us. Our kids, they love, they hurt, they fail, they push, they succeed. They are my heroes and most of all, they are heroes to themselves. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next, Edie Falco honors the man who gives young adults with cancer the adventure of a lifetime.

[21:05:04] And still ahead, a special musical performance by Editha Manzao (ph).

The 10th Annual CNN Heroes: All-Star Tribute is sponsored by Geico, proudly supporting the military and their families for over 75 years.


RIPA: Welcome back to the 10th Annual CNN Hero show. There are more than 70,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer each year. Some become survivors and others fighting this serious disease until the end.

COOPER: Our next hero found a way for them to gain strength and to enjoy life. To share his remarkable story, he's a proud supporter of the 52nd Street Project which connects kids at the theater. She's also one of the stars of the film the "Comedian". Please welcome Edie Falco.

EDIE FALCO, ACTRESS: Cancer has a stunning ability to prioritize your life. What you need, what you want, what you love becomes breathtakingly clear. I know this and Brad Ludden understood this watching his 38-year-old aunt fight breast cancer.

[21:10:03] He saw how she felt isolated and Brad knew there was something he could do. He created a community for other young cancer fighters and survivors like her and started First Descents. For 15 years, he has led groups on free trips to climb mountains, surf great waves and kayak down roaring rivers.

When you are with others who know who has felt what you're feeling, who grasp that this might be your last year, it's a beautiful thing to stare down some rapids. It reminds you that life is precious, always surprising and the most glorious ride around.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was on a field trip with my 5-year-old and a surgeon called me on the phone and said, "You have stage four terminal cancer."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to flip the (inaudible) then you set up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your whole world is trying to point out (ph). You go from normal 30 something-year-old with regular life to, OK, you're going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to your finish. Whoa, that was beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About a year into treatment I was like if I get more time, I'm not going to sit in a hospital.

BRAD LUDDEN, FIRST DESCENTS ORG.: We're taking everyone out of their element. We're taking them out of cancer. With each passing day they take on those challenges with a bit more enthusiasm and confidence.

Yeah, paddle, paddle, paddle, whoa.

Doing that really begins to restore a lot of the damage created from the diagnosis.

Nice work, that's for you. Did you feel that?


LUDDEN: You did everything right.

It's a really beautiful transformation to witness on and off the river.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I am getting out of it that I didn't expect are a lot of friendships.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like it gives people their humanity back. That's what I see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am just trying to live life as much as I can. I don't know if I have more time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel empowered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe I made it through that. That was awesome.

LUDDEN: The end is going to come sooner than we want and with that knowledge we have this obligation to go out and live as fully as possible.


FALCO: Please join me in honoring CNN Hero, Brad Ludden.

LUDDEN: Through First Descents I watched young adults with cancer pursued life, adventure and refuse to be defined by their circumstances and we should all follow their lead. Thank you to all of the young adults with cancer who have inspired me and countless others throughout the years. You guys are the greatest tribe I've ever known and a huge thanks to CNN for shining such a bright light on their passion and strength. This is theirs. Thank you.

RIPA: Hey, heads up everyone. Just a few minutes left to vote for the 10th Anniversary CNN Super Hero. So please go to right now. These five former heroes of the year are amazing and Pushpa Basnet is one of them.

She was our 2012 CNN Hero of the Year. In Nepal she saw the 10 children often grow up in prisons with their incarcerated parents. Pushpa created a safe place for those children and used her CNN Heroes award money to build them a permanent home. And she did this under incredibly difficult circumstances and persevered to give these children a better future.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the spring of 2015, Pushpa Basnet was close to realizing her dream of building a new Butterfly Home for her children. But that April, tragedy struck when a massive earthquake hit Nepal.

PUSHPA BASNET, CNN HERO AWARDEE: Everything my dreams were all scattered. It was gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For months, Pushpa and her children lived in a field under a tarp, but with an out pouring of help, the home was rebuilt. This past February, they moved in.

[21:15:03] BASNET: This is my dream world for my kids. We have a separate building for boys, a separate building for girls. And we have recreational room, we have library, a study room. The smile and the hope that they have, keeps me inspired to do more.


RIPA: Ladies and gentlemen, Pushpa Basnet.

COOPER: Over the years no organization has been a greater supporter of our efforts here than Subaru which has generously sponsored CNN Heroes since 2008. I'd like you all to please welcome Tom Doll, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Subaru of America. Tom.

THOMAS DOLL, SUBARU, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Thank you, Anderson. Nine years ago we at Subaru began our Share the Love Program and at the same time we began our long standing partnership with CNN Heroes. Share the Love in CNN Heroes have a common theme honoring everyday people who make extraordinary contributions to our society and local communities.

The CNN Heroes are an exceptional group of people and while tonight's recognition is terrific, what they really need are monetary donations so they can keep on with their good works. So tonight, I am asking you to join Subaru in donating to the Top 10 CNN Heroes. And if you do, Subaru will match your donations dollar for dollar up to a total of $500,000. Thank you. Thank you.

We at Subaru know how good it feels to give back, so please join us and pledge your support to our -- celebrate the heroes here tonight. Share the Love and donate now at Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up, Richard Gere and Liev Schreiber, and later, the 2016 CNN Hero of the Year.


COOPER: And welcome back. We are here with CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute live from the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Kelly and I who literally been arguing over the last hour over whether or not this giant whale is real or not.

RIPA: How many people think it's real?

COOPER: OK. I -- you thought it could be real?

RIPA: I believe that it is stuffed with candy.

[21:20:02] COOPER: I said there's no way somebody stuffed the whale that size. Anyway, it's made of fiber glass.

RIPA: It's made of fiber glass.

COOPER: For those who are taking notes.

RIPA: Spoiler alert.

COOPER: While you're watching, sorry kids at home. But there are whales that size. While you are watching, if you -- I don't want to crush people's whale dreams.


COOPER: Oh, OK. If you'd like to support one or more of our top 10 heroes, right now your donations will be matched dollar for dollar. So please go to and you can learn more about the whale as well.

RIPA: Yeah, that's true.

COOPER: Pretty exciting.

RIPA: As a child, our next hero would visit the Lamu Island.

COOPER: Lamu. RIPA: Lamu Island.

COOPER: We were debating that also.

RIPA: He has been there. He's been there, so he thinks he knows more, which he does, along the coast of Kenya. It's not far from the boarder with Somalia where today terrorists and the government often clash.

Here to share her story about how she provides medical care to her people is a proud supporter of Feeding America and City Harvest, the star of "Ray Donovan," Liev Schreiber.

LIEV SCHREIBER, ACTOR: It could happen to any of us. We're sitting at work or at home. Life is good, safe, simple and then an unsettling feeling hits us, a feeling that somehow we belong someplace else. That feeling hit Umra Omar when she was working in the United States, unlike most of us, Umra wasn't afraid of that feeling. Instead, she listened to it and moved back to her homeland to Kenya. Umra had no idea what she would there, but its faith would have it, her calling found her in a place that she had spent time in as a child.

When she learned that the only means of medical care in the remote Lamu Islands was disappearing because of the fed of Al-Shabaab, Umra knew she had found the place where she belonged. She started Safari Doctors by plane, motorcycle and boat. Umra delivers medical care to thousands in need. She does this in spite of the dangers, because when you find your place in life, that unsettling feeling settles and you can face down any fear.


UMRA OMAR, SAFARI DOCTORS ORG.: Being in the United States, life was getting too comfortable going to a cubicle every day. It was just a sense of responsibility to come back to where I'm born.

The respiratory inhaler, how many did you get?

Today we are going to (inaudible) village. Not so village of about 300 households. We will be setting up a clinic that afternoon there and then in the evening we're going further up north. We have a community that is caught between militants and the military.

We're in a unique position to go in to these areas that we found, ourselves. Some of these communities are so isolated that mainstream Kenya doesn't know that they exist. So, this is the primary school where the attack happening across the border as the teachers, though, posted here, "runaway."

So there's been no school for a couple of terms now. We will have the triage under the tree and then we'll have one room for the maternal and then we'll have the doctor base with a makeshift pharmacy for dispensing the medicine.

We'll be getting the children up to date with the immunization. Being of the Muslim faith definitely gives a different connection with people.

(Through translation) When you come inside, just lie down and the doctor will attend to you privately.

The main need is an informed professional. It's human resource. So it's just a matter of time to feel this voice that otherwise would really create the disastrous situation. When I went back to Lamu, it never crossed my mind that I would be staying there. But some how you start kind making a life of whatever you believe in. There is no place that I feel safer right now.


DONOVAN: Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present CNN Hero, Umra Omar.

[21:25:06] OMAR: Thank you CNN and Subaru for amplifying the pursuit of humanity. To the communities that become us unconditionally, I salute your resilience. And African probably says if you want to go fast, go alone. To go far, we must go together.

Despite color, gender, beliefs or social status, we all bleed red. May this award be a constant reminder that marinating and comfort is not an option. Fear is not an option. With a leap of faith we can all be the change that our world screams for. Thank you.

RIPA: OK, guys. Time is almost up. This is it. If you want to vote for the tenth anniversary, CNN super hero, head over the and do it now. Let's help all of these heroes this year.

COOPER: In 2013, the hero of the year was Chad Pregracke, otherwise, known as the River's Garbage Man. He devoted his life to cleaning up the Mississippi and more than 20 other waterways across the United States. The amount of trash that Chad and his group have removed is astounding and he is an inspiration to all of us. Take a look.


CHAD PREGRACKE, CNN HERO 2013: Just make piles every 100 feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chad Pregracke's river clean up operation is still going strong after almost 20 years. He and his volunteers have hauled almost 10 million pounds of garbage out of America's waterways. He's also expanded another project that's making the country cleaner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He talked about leaving a legacy. Planting trees is also really good thing to do. So we have a nursery, you know, he grows the tree, just give a little love. Little buddy, buddy, buddy, buddy. When you wake in the morning, boom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chad is giving away free saplings to communities all over the United States. This year, his group celebrated a milestone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In April at the grade school near in the house we planted one million trees. The thing is rolling. It's awesome. 10 bags, everybody gets change the world, that seems so big and vast and it's not about that. All you need to do is just change your world. That's how the world changes.


COOPER: Ladies and gentlemen, Chad Pregracke.

RIPA: Now, back to one of this year's heroes. There are nearly 600,000 children in the United States involved in the foster care system. Between the ages of 18 and 21, most age out and are completely alone and no longer supported by the system.

COOPER: Our next hero found a way to make sure that they begin their adult lives in a safe and comfortable home. To tell her story, the founder of the GEAR Foundation and the star of the film "Norman," Richard Gere.

RICHARD GERE, ACTOR: Hello, everybody. Hi, Diane. Look at her. Of course, I would like to say hello to all of you and everyone out there in T.V. land, especially my Tibetan brothers and sisters inside and outside of Tibet, both and my homeless brothers and sisters wherever you are all over the world.

It's a great honor for me to be here. And very moving to be part of this and see how this transforms the lives of people who really do extraordinary things. We all have a talent. Believe that. We all have something that we can use to bring light and love to this world and to each other.

Georgie Smith has an incredible eye. She can walk into any room and know how to transform it into the most wonderful place in the world, a home. This is what kids who have aged out of foster care and need very badly.

They need someone to take their hand, give them a bed, couch, pots and pans, artwork to hang on the wall. That care and some much needed guidance means everything after a life lived with belongings stuffed into trash bags and lugged around.

Because of Georgie and her organization, A Sense of Home, close to 150 kids had started their new lives with hope and trust, which is not easy for any of us.

And I believe that the beautiful music of this world, it plays for them too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I aged out of the system, I slept in the park.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt like foster care left me a little bit numb.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no one to really fall back on. I was constantly bemused. GEORGY SMITH, CNN HERO: These kids are out there defending for themselves with no support, no community, no nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was born into the system. And then I transitioned out at 18. My goal grow in a boost. I'm going to get my siblings. But it wasn't just all they gave me myself. No I have to fight. I had to fight really hard.

Transitioning from sister to mom was really difficult but as long as we had somewhere to sleep and sit, that was like our main focus.

G. SMITH: So Mercy (ph) is a little bit younger than all of you guys. They've been sleeping on the broken bunk, the three of them. They have one couch they got from good will.

This is for the living room.

We want it to be an inspired new beginning for them.

We have an old foster (ph) staff.

Good morning.

That feeling of that community is family for them.

Oh my God. And we're done.

Are you ready?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I'm so excited.

Oh, my gosh.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is so pretty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This makes it so real like we're going to be OK. We don't need to survive anymore and that we can start living.

Thank you Georgy like honestly. Thank you so much. This means the world to me. Thanks very much.

G. SMITH: We within the foundation from which they can trust. They can just focus on good education and a good career. There is an incredible transformation that happens from the inside. They gained self-worth. We need to really to trust in others.

These kids have such resilience. I just feel it incumbent on us to pay their village.


GERE: Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great honor to present CNN hero, Georgy Smith. G. SMITH: Creating a home for someone alone in the world, living in poverty is not just vital to their survival. It's a bridge connecting them to community. It empowers them to discover the best version of themselves. Our model is ready for replication, thanks to an all-star amazing former foster youth star and a very diverse loving community of volunteers. Let's ensure that years -- the forgotten years we've never felt at home in the world, I forgotten no more.

Thank you, CNN. Thank you, Subaru.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next, Keegan-Michael Key. And we'll reveal your choice for the 10th anniversary CNN Superheroes.


[21:38:04] KELLY RIPA, "CNN HEROES" HOST: Hey, we're back with the CNN Heroes. While you're watching, you can also get involved on Facebook, Twitter and visit us on Instagram to see exclusive behind the scenes pictures.

ANDERSON COOPER, "CNN HEROES" HOST: In the city of Chicago, thousands of kids grow up without a father present in their lives. Our next hero, he's dedicated his life to changing that.

To tell his stories, a proud supporter of the foundation Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, he's a star of "Don't Think Twice" and "Why Him?" Keegan-Michael Key.

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY, ACTOR: First of all, I just would like to thank CNN for asking me to this. This is profoundly humbling and honorable thing. And I just want to salute all of you heroes here tonight. It's just an amazing thing to watch good old fashioned regular human beings and a whole lot of love changed the world seismically. Thank you guys so much. Just amazing.

It is an ache, an ache like no other to grow up and not be able to say on a regular basis, hi, dad, bye, dad, I love you, dad.

Growing up, Sheldon Smith's father wasn't always there. So Sheldon, he knew that ache. And he carried it with him in school and he felt it down to his bones when he struggled. And trust me, he struggled.

And when he became a man, he used his own life experiences, the good and the bad, to help other young men become the fathers of their dreams, their own dreams.

[21:39:58] So, Sheldon started the Dovetail Project. And for, 12 weeks in the fall and the spring, young men, they come together and they learn how to balance the check books. They learn how to put on a tie. They learn how to assist their children with homework.

And this man also received a job, a GED or a trade along with a stipend. So he does all of this for free just to ensure that children feel this. Their dad scooping them up in their arms and whispering into their ears, I love you and I'm here.


SHELDON SMITH, CNN HERO: I remember when I was a young boy, my father said he was going to pick me up.

I sat on the porch all day. I waited and he never came. I'm not having my father around. I made a lot of bad mistakes. And I wound up going to jail. It woke me up.

When I became a parent, I wanted to break the cycle.

All right, gentlemen, good afternoon.

This week's message is about role models.

I grow up in a community where a lot of young men face the same issues. And the basic component is fatherhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I looked to my father but he never been in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he teaches me how to be a man. He didn't know who I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father was a heroin addict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I neither. He wasn't real what I do? Sorry for the guy that was on the street. And what happened, my father passed away.

If I had the chance right now, I promise you, I will talk to my father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, this program, I'm trying to do better. But my son, you're going to have to whatever you do.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very intense. Look, it is a place for me and to just kneel with each other.

S. SMITH: A lot of guys say, well, I grow with my daddy, so I really don't know how to be a father. Every play an effect on you, what are you going to do better or you tell lie?

Fatherhood doesn't come with a map or manual. It's our goal to get these young men to think differently, to give them that love that you need to move you forward.

How many you all looking to be role models to your own kid?

Every father in the program, for me, is a shied. This work is (inaudible) to my heart.

I really want to affect the lives of children. And the only way I can do it is by supporting their fathers. That's why I do the work that I do. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEY: Ladies and gentlemen, please join me honoring CNN hero, Sheldon Smith.

S. SMITH: It's been a powerful experience working with so many young fathers. The number one lesson I've learned is there isn't a perfect way to parent. There isn't some magical formula but with love and motivation, you will succeed. It won't always be easy, but it's worth it.

Help us continue to break the cycle of fatherless children by supporting one of the most valuable people a child can have in their lives.

To my beautiful daughter, Jada, I love you.

RIPA: So, throughout the night, we've been so honored to showcase five of our past heroes of the year, which we saw each and everyone, Chad, Robin, Liz, Krishpa, and Efren have continued their life changing work.

COOPER: Now, we've already awarded each of those five former CNN Heroes of the Year, with each giving them $10,000. And for the last 48 hours, you at home have voted for who you want to be our 10th anniversary CNN Super Hero. Your choice will get an additional $50,000 to help their work go on. And now it's time to announce the winner.

RIPA: It is my honor to reveal your 10th anniversary CNN Super Hero. Pushpa Basnet.

[21:45:29] PUSHPA BASNET, CNN HERO: Wow. This is an amazing night. Thank you everyone who voted for me. And especially the CNN team and the Heroes Team and everyone, thank you for making my dream into a reality.

And the most important thing is that you need to believe in yourself and have passion. And I think the failure is the success of your life and that's mine. Thank you.

COOPER: I was told back stage that when you started doing this, your family was not all that excited. Can we kill the music? Your family was not all that excited about what you're -- the choice you were doing. Is that true?

BASNET: That's true. I think especially my dad and my mom was not happy. Especially my father was not happy because he thought that it was the wrong decision. And I think this award is for my dad that goals can change the world and goals can move.

RIPA: Congratulations.

Do not go away. We have more to come, including a powerful performance by Grammy and Tony Award winner, Idina Menzel.

COOPER: And we'll announce our 2016 CNN Hero of the Year. We'll be right back.


[21:50:22] RIPA: Welcome back to the 10th annual "CNN Heroes and All- Star Tribute". To perform a song that pays tribute to all of our heroes and the people they have helped is one of the founders of A BroaderWay Foundation, which leverages the arts and develops the female leaders of the future.

COOPER: Singing "I See You" from her new album, Idina. Here is Idina Menzel.



COOPER: All right.

RIPA: And I'm so nervous.

COOPER: This is it.

RIPA: Now, it's time for us to honor our 2016 CNN Hero. Since we announced the top 10 heroes, we gave you the opportunity to go to and vote for the hero who inspires you the most.

COOPER: Now, CNN has awarded each of our incredible honorees $10,000 to carry on their important work. In addition, the Annenberg Foundation, which is a leading supporter of non-profits worldwide, is again graciously providing all of our top 10 heroes with free training and guidance to help them successfully grow their organizations as part of its Alchemy program.

[21:55:07] The hero with the most audience votes is going to receive an additional $100,000 to continue their life-changing work.

RIPA: Ladies and gentlemen, the 2016 CNN Hero of the Year is Jeison Aristizabal.

JEISON ARISTIZABAL, 2016 CNN HERO OF THE YEAR (through translator): He can't believe it.

Hello to Columbia. Hello to all the families that have a child with a disability.

I want to tell you that yes you can. You can dream and you can achieve your dreams.

I want to say hello to all my CNN Heroes colleagues. God bless you and there's more work to do.

RIPA: We'd like to invite all of our honorees back on the stage. We want all of the former heroes to join them as well. Please continue to support all of their causes by nominating to You'll be one -- you can nominate someone to be a CNN Hero in 2017. You can do that right now. COOPER: We hope that some of these stories have inspired you to get involved in your own communities and do your part, because you too can be somebody's hero.

Thank you and good night.