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CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 9, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] ANNOUNCER: From the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, this is the program CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE.

Please welcome your host for the evening, Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Thank you very much, and welcome to CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE.

KELLY RIPA, CNN HOST: It's so great to be back hosting with you tonight.

COOPER: Thank you so much for doing this. We really love to have you with us.

RIPA: My favorite thing to do.

COOPER: It's been great -- thank you.

RIPA: Every year.

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: So great to be back, isn't it? Yes.


FERRELL: Hi, everyone. What is this, five years us hosting together? Right, Kathy?

RIPA: Yes -- no, I --

FERRELL: Aspirin (PH).

RIPA: Right.

FERRELL: So great to be with both of you.

RIPA: No, we -- you don't even --


RIPA: We're going to --

COOPER: Technically.

RIPA: We got it from here.

COOPER: Well, contractually it's just Kelly and me.


RIPA: Just tonight.

COOPER: You're actually just presenting.

FERRELL: Oh, I'm just presenting.



RIPA: Yes. We got it.


COOPER: Your agent didn't tell you that?

FERRELL: No, I was told host. Yes.


COOPER: Sorry.

FERRELL: But I may be in the wrong event actually. OK.


FERRELL: Does -- OK, but does this mean that I'm a CNN Hero because I did teach George Clooney how to read last year.

COOPER: Really?

FERRELL: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: How to read?

FERRELL: How to read to a fourth grade level.


COOPER: Really, Clooney is.

RIPA: I did not know that.

FERRELL: He loves Encyclopedia Brown and comic books.

COOPER: Wow. Wow.


COOPER: How does Amal put up with that?

FERRELL: Who is that?


COOPER: A little aside.

RIPA: Here's what we do have guaranteed for you is that you will be presenting this year to an actual hero.

FERRELL: Yes. Later. OK.


RIPA: Yes.

FERRELL: So many famous people out there.

RIPA: Yes. Feast your eyes.


COOPER: So we're good. We're live actually.

FERRELL: Right now.

COOPER: Yes. Yes.


COOPER: No kidding.

FERRELL: I'm nervous now.


RIPA: Don't be nervous. We got it. We got it.


RIPA: You go back right over there.

COOPER: Yes. Like literally like three minutes.

RIPA: Thank you so much.


COOPER: That's good. Just ignore him.

RIPA: I know but he's still back there.

COOPER: Just ignore him. The --

RIPA: I also feel like he's still growing, right?


COOPER: He's big.

RIPA: Yes.

COOPER: Much bigger -- yes.

RIPA: He's larger in person.

COOPER: He's very life-like. Very life-like.

FERRELL: What's that?

COOPER: No, we're good. We're good. All right. Thank you, Will Farrell, thank you very much.


COOPER: Anyway, thank you for joining us. Kelly and I are back at your hosts. Will is a guest. We're coming to you live from the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History here in New York and welcoming viewers from around the world who are watching right now.

Now we're also here once again to celebrate everyday people who are changing the world. Why are you looking at me like that?

RIPA: You look handsome.

COOPER: I'm very happy -- well, it's the dim lighting.

RIPA: Listen, I'm happy to be here. You can't keep me away. I said it last year. I'll say it again. We all need this right now. This show is better than therapy. Just ask my therapist.

COOPER: Sure. Yes.


COOPER: Much cheaper, too.

The women and men that we honor tonight are really the best of the best. They saw a need in their community, and they didn't wait for someone else to fix it. They rolled up their sleeves, and they got it done. Our heroes tonight are truly incredible people, and I'm thrilled that you're going to meet them.

RIPA: Yes. They help veterans rebuild their lives, immigrants become citizens, support women escaping traffickers, teach girls in Africa to code, feed the hungry and so much more. Their work and their stories will inspire you tonight.

COOPER: I don't even know what coding is, but it sounds --

RIPA: Me either.


RIPA: But they told me to read that word coding.

COOPER: I'm glad somebody knows it.

CNN has given each of our Top Ten Heroes $10,000 so they can continue their work, and later tonight one of the honorees will be named the 2018 CNN Hero of the Year and receive another $100,000.


RIPA: That's great. We are also very grateful to all of the artists and entertainers who have given their time to honor some of our heroes here tonight. There are many first-timers, so welcome to the family, all of you.

COOPER: All right.


COOPER: Let's get started. Are you ready?

RIPA: I got my tissues ready. I'm ready, yes.

COOPER: All right. So nearly 13 million kids in the United States live in poverty right now. They live in our cities, our suburbs and small towns.

RIPA: To tell us how our first hero found a simple and beautiful way to help these kids rest easy is the star of the Broadway play "Network" and a supporter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Brian Cranston.


BRIAN CRANSTON, CNN HERO PRESENTER: Hello. On a chilly night, much like this one, a family needed a bed, a basic item for many, but a luxury one for others, so Luke Mickelson helped make it and deliver it.

[20:05:12] When he arrived at the home, he saw a woman rebuilding her life. She had shelter, a hot pot on a cardboard box to cook food and heat, but in the corner of her daughter's bedroom Luke saw a mound of clothes where the child slept. In that child's room he vowed that no kid would sleep on the floor. That year he built 11 beds. The year after hundreds more.

The need was so great that he gave up his high-paying job to dedicate his life to this work, and this year Sleep in Heavenly Peace made 2500 beds for children all over the country.

One man, one bed. A simple beautiful thing shows how love thrives and changes lives from a small town in Idaho.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LUKE MICKELSON, SHPBEDS.ORG: Twin Falls is a very small town community. I grew up here. I'm just a farm kid from Idaho. What I didn't know was there's kids next door, and they need our help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're almost getting too big.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've had some life changes, and became a single mom of five. We just kind of had to start all over again.

MICKELSON: Mattresses, sheets, safety rail, side rails. These kids that we serve, they come to us from all walks of life. People trying to get back on their feet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'd crash on the couch, we'd crash on the floor. It's been tough.

MICKELSON: Usually finding shelter, food for the kids are priority one. Beds are just a luxury for some of these families.

All right. Hello. Can you show me where your bunk beds are going to go?


MICKELSON: Want it right here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we want it over here.

MICKELSON: When we deliver a bed, you walk in and these kids are just so excited.

Here we go, guys.

We make sure that they understand that this is your bed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's that going to be?



MICKELSON: Come on in. Welcome.

We build bunk beds by getting the community involved.

We actually teach these volunteers how to build beds. They jump in, and four hours later dusty and sweaty, they got smiles on their face because they just built 40 beds.

All right. Let her rip. Yes.

I stumbled upon this need that I discovered wasn't being fulfilled by anybody. See my kids and my family being involved with it and help them learn the value of service but also seeing everybody else. It changed who I am and what I do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before it was kids on mattresses on the floor, and now they all have their own beds.

MICKELSON: You want real joy, stop looking at yourself and see how you can help someone else. It doesn't matter what race, religion, we don't care. We're humans helping humans, and these are little humans, and they need our help.

Sleep in heavenly peace, OK?


MICKELSON: All right. We'll see you.





CRANSTON: Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in honoring CNN Hero Luke Mickelson.


MICKELSON: Thank you. And thank you, CNN, for this wonderful moment. Life is filled with tiny moments. When something inside encourages you to stand up, to reach out, to take a leap of faith and not give up.

When I was at a low point in my life, I faced a tiny moment. Nearly dismissing it as insignificant and meaningless, but after feeling the joy of service and seeing the conditions that some of these children were sleeping in, I could no longer dismiss that tiny moment. It wasn't insignificant, and it certainly wasn't meaningless.

Turns out it was much larger than I could ever imagine. Seeing these children in need changed me. They changed my perspective. They changed my passion, and they changed my life.

[20:10:02] No kid sleeps on the floor in my town. Thank you.


RIPA: I'm glad I wore my waterproof mascara for sure.

COOPER: Me, too.

RIPA: According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 41 million Americans experienced food insecurity in 2016, and at the same time up to 40 percent of this country's food supply is thrown out.

COOPER: Here to share how our next hero is tackling both of those problems while she keeps up with her own classes at American University is the Emmy-nominated comedian, star of the film "Holmes and Watson," and a proud supporter for College for Cancer which provides scholarship for cancer survivors and our backup host in case anything happens to us, Will Ferrell.


FERRELL: All across this country, children are going to bed hungry. The elderly are looking at empty fridges, and men and women search for their next meal in dumpsters. What compels 22-year-old Maria Rose Belding to work so hard is that she knows that this doesn't have to happen. She spent much of her wise young life stocking shelves in her church's food pantry. She's seen waste on a scale that's caused her heart to ache.

At 14 she remembers carrying expired boxes of macaroni and cheese to be thrown out past a line of people waiting to be fed. In that moment she said this doesn't make sense. In college she developed a free online platform called MEANS which connects grocery stores, restaurants and even casinos that have unwanted food with soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters. Since 2015 she has prevented more than 2.1 million pounds of food from being thrown out. She's done this because she lives and loves by this simple creed, I was hungry and you fed me.


MARIA ROSE BELDING, MEANSDATABASE.ORG: We have an abundance in the United States when it comes to food. And yet we throw away up to 40 percent of it, but we still have a ton of hungry people.

There was a food pantry in my church that I grew up working in, and you would have way too much of one thing and inevitably some of it would expire. I ended up throwing a lot of it away. That's such an obvious thing to fix.

MEANS is an online platform. We are a digital bridge between the excess food and the people in need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lunch today is tuna salad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feed close to 300 people a day. Donations are critical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're a casino. We have big volume. Chicken, chicken, and more damn chicken. Now when we have leftovers we'll pan it up, label it.

BELDING: All the business needs to do is tell us what they've got and when they need it gone by.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty pans of chicken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five hundred pounds. It's available today. I just hit post.

BELDING: Oh, it's 500 pounds. And 28 agencies were notified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chicken, summer squash, rice, flank steak, I get a text and assuming nobody has gotten there first I clean the food.

BELDING: This is not (INAUDIBLE). It has turned green. You would really think the novelty of it would wear off. It doesn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I'll see you in a little while.

BELDING: We're able to match up excess and need very, very quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he is. Good to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people that are picking it up definitely need it. It's a win-win all the way around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really four or five meals. It's big. It's a week of simplicity of it. Here's a text and here's the food. It's magic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Here's lunch.

It's exciting to me that food that had a whole other job yesterday found this way better job today.

BELDING: It should be easier to give food to people in need than to ditch it in a dumpster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was lunch? Did we do OK?



BELDING: I'm definitely not having a normal college experience, but we're building something that matters a lot more than we do.



FERRELL: Please join me in honoring CNN Hero Maria Rose Belding.


[20:15:03] BELDING: First off, you are welcome to host in our office at any point. Secondly, my colleagues and I stand on the shoulders of moral giants. Food pantries and soup kitchens whose work embodies what it means to love thy neighbor. They have taught me that when it comes to the people we serve, we don't have to get it. The lives of others may be beyond our experience, but they should never be beyond our empathy. We need not know the catalyst or the intricacies of suffering to know that suffering is wrong.

By acknowledging us tonight, you acknowledge not only these incredible organizations but our 46 million hungry American neighbors who rely on them. We have the excess, and we certainly have the need. All we have to do is match it.

Thank you so very much.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, "Black Panther's" Danai Gurira, Lenny Kravitz and Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen.


COOPER: Welcome back to CNN HEROES. Throughout the night as you meet our top 10 honorees I hope you go to and click on the donate button to help support them. The donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar.

[20:20:03] RIPA: And while you're watching join the conversation on Facebook and we're on Twitter at the hashtag CNNheroes and don't forget to stop by our Instagram page as well.

COOPER: And tonight not only are we celebrating our top 10 heroes, but we're also be honoring five young people who are really making a difference in a lot of people's lives. We call them Young Wonders.

RIPA: Yes. Here to introduce us to two of them is a champion of Planned Parenthood and a Golden Globe nominee for her starring role in the film "Eighth Grade," please welcome Elsie Fisher.


ELSIE FISHER, CNN HERO PRESENTER: OK. There are a lot of things going on in life right now that can make young people like me anxious. Let's start with the environment. Huge fires, big storms, historic floods, but which should all bring us some hope and calm are two sisters from Bali, Indonesia.

Melati and Isabel Wijsen love their home and want to protect it. In 2013 when they were 10 and 12 they started a petition to get rid of plastic bags, and it grew to a huge movement. Because of their work, their beautiful island and our one blue planet have a chance to heal.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me Bali is very special. Nature was literally our playground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That really established a bond with Mother Earth from a very young age. The more we would go and explore we would start seeing plastic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is serious in-your-face kind of situation here. On the beach, the riverbank, in the streets and the gutters, and it often ends up in our oceans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. That is 30 years away. That is in our lifetime.

GROUP: Bye-bye Plastic Bags.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bye-Bye Plastic Bags was born in 2013. Right now we're in one of our pilot villages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We started working in there three years ago to get the village plastic bag-free.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These local shops were spending a lot of money buying plastic bags, so we've provided them with free alternative bags.


They are all from recycled material. It's safe to say the village has reduced their amount of plastic bags by 60 percent. It really shows people are caring and that people are willing to change.


Rivers are the path for all these plastics to end up in our oceans, and so we've worked to put in place river booms. We literally only need a net. Recycled plastic bottles and stones and lots of friends to help you make it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then can you slide the bottles in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A river boom is a sort of floating dam device to stop trash from passing it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the oceans this river boom means cleaner waters that it's receiving.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The oceans, they give us life. It's our duty to protect the ocean.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The world can say bye-bye to plastic bags.


RIPA: I'm here with Melati and Isabel Wijsen.

Melati, your dress is incredible. Tell us what it says.

MELATI WIJSEN, BYEBYEPLASTICBAGS.ORG: Well, I really wanted to wear the message that we stand for tonight, so my dress says less plastic is fantastic.

RIPA: Truly is. Now what is the one thing we can all do to help out?

ISABEL WIJSEN, BYEBYEPLASTICBAGS.ORG: I think one thing that everybody here in this room can do when they walk out today and something that we've been campaigning for for the past five years is leading by example and starting by saying no to single-use plastic bags.

RIPA: OK. Well, thank you, girls. You are both Young Wonders and it's so well deserved.


RIPA: To learn more about Melati and Isabel's story and all of our Young Wonders please go to




COOPER: Last week the nation mourned the passing of our 41st president George H.W. Bush who dedicated his life to service. One of the many striking images that touched I think all our hearts was this photograph of his service dog Sully lying in front of his casket, his faithful companion to the end. It's a reminder that heroes come in all shapes, in all sizes, and some have tails.

Sully is a service dog from America's Vet Dogs, and I'm very pleased that Sully is here tonight with his trainer Valerie Kramer.

Please welcome Sully and Valerie.


COOPER: And normally you don't pet a service dog because they're working but Valerie said it's OK because technically Sully is not walking.

[20:25:07] So Sully will soon go to the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. where his services are going to continue helping more veterans. He's two and a half years old, so he's got a lot of contributions to make in the future. And thank you for all you do.


COOPER: And it's incredible. Sully was actually trained initially by prisoners, is that right?


COOPER: Yes. That's extraordinary.

KRAMER: In our prison program and then came to our foundation where I completed the training.

COOPER: That's amazing.

Here to tell us how a veteran in Kansas City, Missouri, is guiding and helping veterans rebuild their lives is the granddaughter of President Bush whose social business feed is helping fight childhood hunger around the world and here in the United States.

Please welcome Lauren Bush. Lauren.


LAUREN BUSH, CNN HERO PRESENTER: This past week we remembered and paid tribute to my grandfather George H.W. Bush who was the 41st president of United States of America.

From early on in his life he was driven to serve his country and his fellowmen when he enlisted as one of the youngest Navy pilots to fight in World War II, and what we saw from him, like many veterans, is that the desire to serve doesn't end when you come home. Whether or not you are deployed for a decade or a few short months, it is that oath they took that is timeless.

Chris Stout learned this when he was injured in Afghanistan. Back home, he struggled to find his place, but his wife noticed that he came alive when he spent time with other veterans. Chris took a job at a local agency and he grew frustrated as he watched so many end up on the streets simply because they fell through the cracks.

Chris met with some of his friends, and they vowed to serve his brothers and sisters in arms better. In 2015, they launched Veterans Community Project. It's a one-stop shop where any veteran can get a free bus pass, help finding a job, connection to mental health services and transitional housing.

In three short years, Chris has reached more than 8,000 men and women showing all of us that service is unshakeable and profound. He is a bright point of light.


CHRIS STOUT, VETERANSCOMMUNITYPROJECT.ORG: In Afghanistan I received a crush injury to my right leg, and I was Medevaced out. When I came home, I really struggled with my injury and PTSD. I kind of kept all that stuff to myself. Being around other veterans, that really helped me realize that I wasn't the only guy but oftentimes these guys fell through the cracks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take that. Fill that out for me.

STOUT: If you've ever served, you know that if one of your fellow platoon guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's your card.

STOUT: If they need help, you help them.

What branch are you?


STOUT: Oh, my gosh, are you kidding me?

We serve anybody who has ever raised their hand to defend our Constitution. We are the go-to place for all things veteran.

You got your pass and all that stuff. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know how much it helps, but it does.

STOUT: For all the vets, the tiny homes gives them their own personal private space. I didn't know what a tiny house was. I had to Google it. A fully furnished home, provides everything that these guys need to live with dignity, to live safely and to just fix what got them there in the first place.

If you want to get squared away, dude. We'll get you hooked up.

Tiny homes are organized into a veterans' village. They get to know each other, and they are supporting each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was chronically homeless for about eight years. Reconnecting with people in the military again, it's like, OK, this is my home. These are my neighbors. These are my -- my family.

STOUT: When we see somebody reconnecting with their family, that's huge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am starting my own lawn business. Trying to finish my associate's degree. I love this place. It makes me love my country again.

STOUT: I remember the first day I met you, man. You're like a different guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't looked back since. You saved my life, bro.

STOUT: These guys are my buddies, so when I see a win for them, it means everything. That's what gets me going. If we were all out on the battlefield, they would have served me there. This is just my way to serve them.



BUSH: Ladies -- ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of a grateful nation, it is my honor to present CNN Hero Chris Stout and his service dog Tom.


[20:30:00] CHRIS STOUT, CEO, VETERANS COMMUNITY PROJECT: I am grateful beyond words for this honor. More than anything, I'm grateful for the service of the men and women of the Armed Forces. You see, Veterans Community Project is all about serving them. Our country asked for veterans to sacrifice everything in their military service, and now, it's our turn to return the favor. The roof we're putting over their head is only the beginning. We're helping them press the reset button on their very lives. Now, more than ever, I stand behind our creed, an oath to serve those who have served us. Thank you.

KELLY RIPA, HOST, ABC: We'd also like to take a moment to honor two lives taken from us too soon. 2013 CNN Hero Dale Beatty passed away this year. His work rehabbing homes touched the lives of so many veterans.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We also want to honor Mayor Brent Taylor of North Ogden, Utah. He was 39 years old. He had completed two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Tragically, last month, on his second tour in Afghanistan, he was killed. His wife jenny and three of their children, Meghan, Lincoln, and Alexander, are here with us tonight. Please welcome them.

Their dad -- their dad is a real American hero in every sense of the word, and we want to thank them and all our service members and their families who give so much to this country every single day. Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: CNN HEROES: Shay Mitchell, Cynthia Erivo, and John C. Reilly. And still to come, a special performance by Lenny Kravitz. CNN HEROES: An All-Star Tribute is sponsored by GEICO, proudly supporting the military and their families for over 75 years.


[20:35:54] COOPER: And welcome back to CNN HEROES. The State of Oklahoma has had the highest rate of incarceration for women in the country for more than 25 years. Many of the women who are incarcerated struggle financially and emotionally.

RIPA: To share the story of how a high school English teacher is helping thousands of these women, is one of the stars of "Black Panther" and award-winning playwright, and a Good Will Ambassador for U.N. Women, Danai Gurira.

DANAI GURIRA, ACTRESS: We hear the word inmate, and it brings up that cliche of an orange jumpsuit and a number, but Ellen Stackable knows that each and every woman inside a cell is a human being first, a human being with a voice. That is why Ellen co-founded poetic justice in 2014, so they could put lives into words, lives filled with abuse, addiction, lost children, mental illness and heartbreaking series of terrible bad luck, but there they are. Once a week, in chairs with pencils and paper, unafraid to put the truth down on the page. They know what they have done in spite of a system designed to strip them of their humanity, they remain women, mothers, and daughters. And word by word, they fight for forgiveness, healing, and the power to change.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My life before prison was crazy. I lost my dad when I was really young, my mom was an alcoholic. I've been addicted to methamphetamines since I was 13 years old. I used to always say I would die before I was 21. And in a sense I did. I have a 30-year sentence. 30 years is a long time. I didn't understand what that meant. After I hit the yard and I kind of got a taste of what prison was, it shocked me that I was here.

ELLEN STACKABLE, POETIC JUSTICE: There's no coincidence that prisons are often in out of the way of rural places. It's because we don't want to see them. We don't want to know what's happening.

So we're going to be writing about a time when you felt a sense of victory, and we're going to 10 to 15 minutes to write.

We provide a safe place for them to overcome trauma and pain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't feel like you're in prison when you're in class. I felt important for the first time in my life. I feel like I have something to say.

I pick up the phone at random, hoping you might accept my call. Your call was not accepted. Put the phone back on the wall. If you want me, here I am. I'm not going anywhere for now, but I love you, and I promise you're the one missing out.

STACKABLE: Their only true freedom they have to hold within themselves.

OK. Anybody else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A smile is a trophy, not won without a fight. Through ache and triumph and spite, my smile is my light. So I smile.

STACKABLE: Oh, wow. That was victory.

I have a voice!

INMATES: I have a voice!

STACKABLE: I have hope!

INMATES: I have hope.

STACKABLE: I have the power to change.

INMATES: I have the power to change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will start college in the fall. Through writing, I discovered that there's a whole world out there that I haven't even experienced yet.

STACKABLE: There are no expendable people in this world. They're not at number. They're not just a color. They are person of inestimable worth.


[20:40:08] GURIRA: Please join me in honoring CNN Hero Ellen Stackable.

STACKABLE: I would like to thank CNN for showing us light in a dark time. My heroes are the poet warriors behind bars, who are resilient, compassionate, and eloquent, and who refuse to surrender to hopelessness. One of my dear friends, Geneva, who was in prison, wrote: "Hope builds bridges between colors, ideas, and dreams. Hope honors courage and applauds every effort towards goodness. It comforts failures and always, always tries again. It is the keystone upon which all things hinge. Hope is the center that holds when all else fails."

The women in our classes have taught me the true meaning of hope and the power of second chances. I want more than anything to thank them and for you to remember them tonight. Thank you.

RIPA: Our next young wonder is from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and -- well, we'll put it this way, he's an absolute love.

COOPER: To share his story is the Academy Award Nominated Actor and the star of "Stan and Ollie," John C. Reilly.

JOHN C. REILLY, COMEDIAN ACTOR: Hello. Well, I'm here to present the Young Wonder Award to 12-year-old Liam Hannon. Let me tell you a little bit about this kid. So, two summers ago when Liam was 10, he said, dad, I don't want to go to camp. Now, his dad was OK about it, but he told Liam, he had to stay busy. So, they found an online treasure hunt that required him to do some kind of service in order to play. So, Liam looked out his window and thought about the homeless men and women he saw every day, and he decided to make them sandwiches. Now, remember, he was just 10 at this time. And when I was 10, I was also making sandwiches but just for myself. Mmm, sandwiches.

But that first week, Liam Hannon made 20 sandwiches for other people, and Liam's lunches of love was born. Now, he still hasn't been to summer camp, he's been too busy delivering food and also writing notes on the lunch bags. Notes like "eat and smile," "you rock," and my favorite, "I love you."


LIAM HANNON, LIAM'S LUNCHES OF LOVE: I think about how tough it is for someone to be homeless. Everyone should have a place to live. Helping people is important to me because people just need a little kindness in their life.

Who wants to make sandwiches?

I kind of had big ideas at first. Something huge like getting a food truck, but then I realized that I needed to think smaller. I knew if I started small, it could grow and be better. Since July 2017, we've made 2,000 or more lunches.


HANNON: You're welcome.

A lot of people treat them like they're not even humans, but they are, and this shouldn't be happening to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. (INAUDIBLE) thank you.

HANNON: You're welcome.

When I give someone a lunch, their face lit up, and it just makes me feel really good inside. I have been out there on the lunch deliveries.


HANNON: You're welcome.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants to have a conversation and say hello.


HANNON: You're welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Liam is going to change the world.

HANNON: I'm definitely proud that I've come all this way to make that many lunches. You just have to start small, get help from friends, and do something that you love.

COOPER: And I'm here with Liam Hannon. Congratulations!

HANNON: Thank you.

COPPER: So I heard that you just got an electric cart, a food cart. Is that right?

[20:45:02] HANNON: Yes.

COOPER: How did you get that?

HANNON: It's from all of the donations from all of our friends, family, and everyone who cares about Liam's Lunches of Love.

COOPER: And I hear what you really want is a food truck, is that right?


COOPER: You -- it's going to be a while before you can drive, you know?


HANNON: True, but I will at some point.

COOPER: Well, I wish you the best, and I hope you can have the food truck very soon. Congratulations!

HANNON: Thank you.

COOPER: All right. There's a lot more to Liam's story and all of our Young Wonders. You can check them out at

ANNOUNCER: Coming up next, Emily Mortimer honors a hero who helps immigrants become citizens. And later, Cynthia Erivo and Uzo Aduba. CNN HEROES: An All-Star Tribute is proudly sponsored by Humana. At Humana, we believe everyone has a reason to start with healthy.


COOPER: Welcome back to CNN HEROES: An All-Star Tribute live from the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life of the American Museum of Natural History here in New York. Our next hero is helping immigrants become citizens in Carson City, Nevada.

RIPA: To tell her story is one of the stars of "Mary Poppins Returns," a proud supporter of the Immigrant Justice Corps who became a U.S. citizen in 2011. Please welcome, Emily Mortimer.

EMILY MORTIMER, ACTRESS: Think of all the times you've had someone say these belittling words, why don't they just learn English? Florence Phillips knows the sting of those words. Her father fled Poland, and her mother fled France. They met and married in New York, had Florence, and she often translated for them throughout their lives.

[20:50:09] Then in her late 50s, she did something remarkable with hers. She volunteered for the Peace Corps and taught English around the world. In 2004, she realized many immigrants in her own city wanted to learn the English language, too, but couldn't because the classes were expensive, many worked full-time and transportation and childcare costs were added burdens they couldn't bear. So Florence tore down all those walls and started the ESL in-home program of Northern Nevada. Her classes are free and often taught in people's homes. She has helped 5,000 men and women learn English and more than 345 become citizens who are able to say these words with pride, love, and humility, "I am an American."


MARIA PONCE, IMMIGRANT: Maria Ponce, Mexico.


MERLINDA FRANCISCO, IMMIGRANT: Merlinda Francisco, Canada.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so happy for my mom. She worked so hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for the smiles and laughing you provide me every day.

PHILLIPS: You hear how hard they worked before they could sit in that courtroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He dreamed about this moment since he was a kid. So, this is his dream come true.

PHILLIPS: My mother and my father, they came with what was on their backs. I saw how they struggled not speaking the language. Their goal was to become an American.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to do singular and plural.

PHILLIPS: We meet the needs of the student.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. So, it goes man.


PHILLIPS: If they're working two, three jobs, they have to study every single day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are some examples of federal power? What is our most important document? How many voting members?

PHILLIPS: It is a very difficult test. A lot of Americans say they could not pass. It's almost like who came over on the mayflower.

PONCE: Today is the day my hard work paid off. I want to say thank you to my teachers. They believe in me and told me you can do it. And I believe in myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to work for your citizenship. Thank you for choosing to join us. Congratulations!

PHILLIPS: It's the immigrants that made the United States.

I want to hold (INAUDIBLE)

So I welcome all to come here as my parents did.

Aren't you proud of your mother?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh-hmm, and it's all thanks to you.


We are giving them the key to unlock all doors to that American dream. I see the pride when they say I am an American.

RIPA: Ladies and gentlemen, she just celebrated her 88th birthday. Please join me in honoring CNN Hero, Florence Phillips.

PHILLIPS: I am deeply honored and humbled to be in the amazing company of these other nine heroes. The true hero is the parents, the grandparent, the aunt, the uncle who made the ultimate sacrifice to leave their homeland in order to give their children a future here in the United States of America.

[20:54:58] To have the gift of language gives them the ability to feel they are contributing not only to their family, but to their new home in the U.S. I'm excited to go back home and roll up my sleeves and move my program to the next level. Thank you.

COOPER: Amazing. Over the years, no organization has been a greater supporter of our efforts than Subaru, which is generously sponsored CNN Heroes since 2008. Please welcome Tom Doll, the President Chief Executive Officer for Subaru of America.

TOM DOLL, PRESIDENT & CEO, SUBARU OF AMERICA: Our time and love are the most precious gifts we can give to each other. Each of our CNN Heroes has shown what a profound impact the giving of those gifts can have. That is why we continue to invest Subaru's time and love in our Share a Little Love event. Through this program, Subaru of America and our retailers support national and local charities. And by the end of this year, we'll have donated more than $140 million to help others. Thank you.

Tonight, we are here to not only honor our heroes, but to help them continue their great work. Please join Subaru in donating to our 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.

We at Subaru know how good it feels to give back. Please share the love by contributing to our celebrated heroes here tonight. Donate now at Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: Next on CNN HEROES, Omari Hardwick. And you can support our top 10 honorees' work at

RIPA: We are back with CNN HERO. Now, you know, that Subaru is matching all of your donations to all of our top 10 CNN HEROES, so go to and click on the donate button. We also want to thank CrowdRise by GoFundMe, the world's largest social fundraising platform dedicated exclusively to charitable giving. They're helping all of our heroes tonight and all-year long.