CNN and CNNgo honor everyday people changing the world.
"CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" includes celebrities, CNN's Top 10 Heroes and the Hero of the Year
Show includes singer Andra Day, Neil Patrick Harris, Taylor Schilling, Common, Sharon Stone, Chris Noth and Zachary Quinto
Join CNN for a star-studded celebration honoring people who’ve made a difference by daring to help others. Will their stories inspire you?
“CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” features CNN’s Hero of the Year, Maggie Doyne, sharing her story and delivering an emotional and touching acceptance speech.
Hear details about how this former babysitter from New Jersey fell in love with a country halfway around the world and used her babysitting savings to start a home and school for women and children.
The stories of nine other Heroes are shared as well. Every tale underscores the idea that everyday people can change the world.
Donate to charities for all Top 10 CNN Heroes
With presentations and performances by some of entertainment’s brightest stars, each Hero receives $10,000. The Hero of the Year’s charity gets an additional $100,000. Held November 17 at Manhattan’s iconic American Museum of Natural History, the event is hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
CNN Heroes 2015 red carpet
Celebrity presenters include Neil Patrick Harris, Taylor Schilling, Common, Kelly Ripa, Kathy Griffin, Sharon Stone, Chris Noth and Zachary Quinto.
R&B and jazz singer Andra Day performs her powerful song, “Rise Up.” Also, singer and actress Victoria Justice, actor Jacob Tremblay of “Room” and YouTube vlogger Bethany Mota recognize three Young Wonders – young adults honored by CNN.
Ten CNN Heros quotes that will inspire you
Below, in random order, find out what drives each Top 10 Hero and what sets them apart.
Undercover doctor for the homeless
For more than 20 years, Dr. Jim Withers has taken his medical practice to the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offering free, quality health care to the homeless.
Bringing 'street medicine' to the homeless
To win their trust, Withers used to walk the streets dressed like a homeless person — rubbing dirt in his hair and muddying up his clothes. He would search for those who needed medical attention who might be too suspicious of him otherwise. It was important for Withers to connect with people who wouldn’t seek him out. Instead, he reached out to them.
“I was actually really shocked how ill people were on the street,” Withers said. “Young, old, people with mental illness, runaway kids, women (who) fled domestic violence, veterans. And they all have their own story.”
Withers’ one-man mission became a citywide program called Operation Safety Net. Since 1992, the group has reached more than 10,000 individuals and helped more than 1,200 of them transition into housing.
He also started Street Medicine Institute, a nonprofit that helps communities worldwide establish programs of their own.
‘The Sloth Lady’
Monique Pool has dedicated herself to helping wild animals in the South American country of Suriname. Pool has rescued, rehabilitated and released hundreds of sloths and other mammals back to the rainforest.
Meet the 'Sloth Lady' of Suriname
It all started in 2005, when Pool’s dog went missing. During her search, she called the Animal Protection Society and learned that a baby sloth had been orphaned. Pool offered to take it in.
“I didn’t know anything about sloths, but I learned a lot,” said Pool, who sought advice from international experts on how to care for the animals.
Sloth steals the spotlight at CNN Heroes
Today, Pool’s nonprofit, Green Heritage Fund Suriname, helps protect sloths and implement other conservation efforts in the country. Her home serves as a temporary sanctuary for the mammals, and she is now a recognized local authority on them. Her work has earned her the nickname, “The Sloth Lady.”
Growing fresh produce in a ‘food desert’
In rural Conetoe, North Carolina, Richard Joyner has brought a bounty of food to what was a nutritional desert. Joyner, a local pastor, started a community garden after watching many of his parishioners die from preventable diseases. “Diabetes, high blood pressure – when we first got started, we counted 30 funerals in one year,” Joyner said.
Growing fresh produce in a 'food desert'
Today, his nonprofit, the Conetoe Family Life Center, manages more than 20 plots of land, including one 25-acre site. More than 80 local young people help him plant and harvest nearly 50,000 pounds of fresh food a year. Local residents receive some food for free, and students also raise scholarship money by selling the food to restaurants and grocery stores.
The children also learn how to cook the food in a nutritious way, steering their families toward better choices at home. As a result, many people are now reaping the benefits of Joyner’s ideas. Emergency room visits are down, and the community as a whole is healthier.
Babysitting money transforms entire community
A New Jersey woman who saved her babysitting money has made a difference half a world away in Surkhet, Nepal. Ten years ago Maggie Doyne decided to backpack around the world before college. But during a stop in Nepal, her life took an unexpected turn. She met women and children who were struggling to survive the aftermath of a decade-long civil war.
Helping Nepali kids blossom
Doyne called her parents and asked them to wire her the $5,000 she had earned babysitting. She purchased land in Surkhet and worked with the local community to build the Kopila Valley Children’s Home. Today, Kopila – which means “flower bud” in Nepali – is home to about 50 children, from infants to teenagers.
In 2010, the group opened its Kopila Valley School, which today educates more than 350 students. Doyne’s BlinkNow Foundation supports these efforts.
‘Walking off the war’
Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran Sean Gobin’s nonprofit, Warrior Hike, has a unique way to help combat vets process their troubling war experiences. Gobin calls it, “walking off the war.” The idea came during a 2012 hike along the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail.
“Hiking eight hours a day, I was processing all of these experiences that I had put away,” said the Charlottesville, Virginia, native. “And I knew that there were other combat veterans that needed to do that.”
'Walking off the war'
Warrior Hike provides combat veterans with all the equipment and supplies they need to complete long-distance hikes throughout the country. Ranging from two to six months, these journeys give veterans a chance to connect with nature and work through their issues while enjoying the camaraderie and support of other war veterans.
Bringing water to drought-stricken people
For CNN Hero Bhagwati Agrawal, it was a water crisis in his homeland that spurred him to act. His nonprofit, Sustainable Innovations, created a rainwater harvesting system that now provides life-changing, safe drinking water to more than 10,000 people across six villages in the driest region of India.
Harvesting rainwater for India's driest region
California’s record-breaking drought has made news, but in Rajasthan, water scarcity is a way of life. Women and children walk miles to get water and clean dishes with sand to conserve it. His system, called Aakash Ganga – Hindi for “River from the Sky” – is a network of rooftops, gutters, pipes and underground reservoirs that collect and store the monsoon rains, which fall from July to September.
The system frees adults to spend time doing more valuable activities. Not having to fetch water allows children, especially girls, to spend more time in school. People report fewer health problems. Dairy cows have become twice as productive.
“The way I look at it, I’m 70 years old” Agrawal told CNN. “I only have maybe 10 years left of active life. Right now I’m like Usain Bolt, the sprinter. … And I will run very fast to accomplish this mission.”
Breaking the cycle of homelessness
Kim Carter of San Bernardino, California, cycled in and out of incarceration and homelessness until she decided it was time for a change. Now her nonprofit, Time For Change, helps hundreds of women in similar circumstances reclaim their lives.
The group provides housing, counseling and job training, as well as services to help women reunite with their children.
Breaking the cycle of homelessness
“Homeless women and children – I call them invisible people. We pretend that we don’t see them,” Carter said. “But I see them. And I know there’s something we can do to help them.”
Since 2002, more than 800 women – many of them formerly incarcerated – have benefited from Carter’s program.
Fulfilling a promise to her Native American grandmother
Growing up, Rochelle Ripley spent her summers listening to her grandmother’s stories. Her grandmother, a full-blooded Lakota, taught her about their culture and the struggles faced by the people. Before her grandmother died, she asked Ripley to do one thing: Go home and help their people.
Today, Ripley is fulfilling that promise. Through her nonprofit, hawkwing, she has delivered an estimated $9 million in services and goods to the Lakota people.
Bringing hope to the Lakota people
Ripley’s group helps those in need with employment, safe housing and healthy food.
Four to five times a year, Ripley makes the trip from her home in Glastonbury, Connecticut, to South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Working alongside the tribe, she and volunteers run a food bank and provide free health services, home renovations and educational opportunities.
Being there for single parents with cancer
For single parents, dealing with cancer offers its own set of challenges. Jody Farley-Berens saw the need firsthand, when her childhood friend faced that situation.
“Making ends meet is insurmountable,” said Farley-Berens. “There are so many doctors’ appointments, copays, surgeries, prescriptions. And then the inability to work – any savings that there may have been is gone very quickly.”
She did all she could to help. After her friend passed away, Farley-Berens helped start a nonprofit dedicated to assisting others in similar circumstances.
Being there for single parents with cancer
Since 2006, Singleton Moms has provided practical, financial and emotional support to more than 300 parents in the Phoenix, Arizona, area.
A ‘battering ram’ for patients
In Chicago’s troubled neighborhoods, Dr. Daniel Ivankovich witnessed countless people struggling to get medical treatment because they were under-insured or they didn’t have any insurance at all. They were put on wait lists for months, even years, just to receive basic procedures, and their injuries got worse.
“I thought to myself, this is happening in America?” he said.
So Ivankovich vowed to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. In 2010, he co-founded the nonprofit OnePatient Global Health Initiative.
Today, Ivankovich runs three clinics in Chicago and performs more than 600 surgeries a year. He says more than 100,000 people have benefited from the program.