tv CNN Heroes An All- Star Tribute CNN December 25, 2012 1:00pm-3:00pm PST
in 2012, the president also won the supreme court's stamp of approval for his health care reform program and made history with this statement -- >> i think same-sex couples should be able to get married. ♪ >> as 2012 comes to a close, the president joined in grief with a community shocked by senseless violence. >> these tragedies must end. and to end them, we must change. and to end them, we must change. >> brooke baldwin, cnn, atlanta. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> i'm don lemon, thanks for watching. a first responder rushes into a building to rescue a child.
he doesn't see this as anything more than doing his job. this is a hero. a young girl speaks up for her right to an education and gets shot in the head, but her voice is not silenced and she inspires a movement of women. that's a hero. a man is found in a house with his arms tightly wrapped around his son trying to protect him as hurricane sandy swept them both away. he was a former marine. that's a hero, too. we don't build statues to these people. we may not even notice them. but they don't care about that because their actions are not calculated to gain recognition or reward. what they do is who they are. as a young marine, i was taught to help people who could not help themselves. all over the world right now,
people are putting this principle into action and saving lives. these heroes speak one language -- the language of humanity. there are different kinds of heroes, those who in that unforgiving minute rise to the occasion when the moment calls for it, daily grind-it-out heroes who wake up every morning and humbly change the world. you think you've got what it takes to be a hero. we've all asked ourselves that question. i think we do. because these heroes, they're you. just ordinary people. until they're heroes. and we need those heroes more than ever. [ applause ]
♪ >> announcer: ladies and gentlemen, please welcome anderson cooper. >> good evening, everyone, and welcome to cnn heroes, an all-star tribute. the men, the women and the children you are going to meet tonight are taking aim at some of humanity's gravest challenges. they come here not only to accept our gratitude but to inspire us to take action in our own lives. with us at this event, as you would expect at a fancy awards show are film, tv, music and sports stars. but here is the difference they didn't is didn't come to be honored. they came to generously lend their support to heroes as well as the remarkably talented harvey keitel. we want to thank them for getting involved. you can get involved tonight. you can also interact and donate on screen during the performances tonight during the show, you will see some stuff down over here, you will see some stuff over here on your screens, hopefully not right here because that's my face, that's the moneymaker.
we've got ten incredible heroes that we're honoring this year. later tonight, one of them is going to be named the 2012 cnn hero of the year. if there's any time left, the producers promised me this time, finally, i can sing my a cappella version of "gangnam style," fingers crossed, been practicing for weeks -- and i have just been told there will not be time for that. like many of our honorees, our first hero's story illustrates a problem hiding really in plain sight. to introduce us to her, please welcome an actor who champions many causes such as unicef and race for kids, adrien brody. >> every day so many children do the extraordinary, and most of us don't even notice. they change their mother's i.v. they clean their brother's
feeding tube and check for bedsores. they dispense complex, life-saving drugs and then spend the night worrying if they got it right. in the morning, worn out and drained, they catch the bus to school. and what connie siskowski discovered is that they carry more than their heavy backpacks into those classrooms. they carry the burdens of home. she noticed how these adult responsibilities impacted their schoolwork, how they were afraid that if they asked for help at home, they would be separated from their families, and how they often dropped out of school. while others were oblivious and critical, connie knew they were strong, and she had the insight to start an organization focused on easing their burdens. and because of her work, we can now see these kids as inspiring, compassionate human beings. and we are blessed that they are hidden no more.
>> there are at least 1.3 million children who are caregiving in the united states. >> you okay? >> my mom is a three-time cancer survivor. >> my biggest fear is finding out she's in the hospital when i get home from school. >> she might end up facedown in the backyard. >> as a result of caregiving, children sacrifice their education. they sacrifice their well-being. they sacrifice their childhood. our health care system has many gaps. families are struggling, and they don't have the disposable income to hire help at home. >> i help my mom care for my brother, isaac. i first started caring for isaac when i was 11 years old. i helped my mom bathe him, feed
him. i also helped change his diaper, put on clothes. let's go, guys. before i got into the caregiving youth project, i mainly felt stressed. >> having experienced some of that myself allows me to better understand what these families are going through. when i was growing up, my grandfather and i were really close, and he had congestive heart failure. i did everything for my grandfather. the night that he died, i was the one who found that he was no longer breathing and i can still feel what his skin felt like at that time. i remember i didn't cry until -- sorry. >> after the lab, we're going to go over the periodic table.
>> working with the children and seeing their lives transformed makes me get up every day. our society loses if we do not support these children. >> oh, my god, look at that! >> in school we offer skills building. we offer families a home visit to see what other needs the families might have. >> you have a couple of steps to go up to get isaac into the house? >> yeah. >> maybe we could get a ramp built. >> that would be great. thank you so much! >> fun activities are important because it allows the child to experience a piece of childhood that they otherwise might not. >> it helps my confidence. >> i feel that they have my back. >> i want to tell the world this organization is amazing. it really helps. and it's all thanks to dr. connie. i love her so much. ♪
[ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present cnn hero connie siskowski. ♪ what doesn't kill you makes you stronger ♪ ♪ stand a little taller ♪ doesn't mean i'm lonely when i'm alone ♪ ♪ what doesn't kill you makes a fighter ♪ ♪ footsteps even lighter ♪ doesn't mean i'm older because you're gone ♪ ♪ what doesn't kill you makes you stronger stronger ♪ ♪ just me myself and i ♪ what doesn't kill you >> it's no secret that the kids you just met are the real heroes.
there are still too many people who don't know these children exist. thanks to tonight, many more do. now it's time to make sure that they have the support they need and that not one child drops out of school to care for loved ones. please join us to give your community's caregaving youth a chance. thank you. [ applause ] >> announcer: next on cnn heroes, viola davis and david speed. and later, josh duhamel and a live performance by phillip phillips. [ nurse ] i'm a hospice nurse. britta olsen is my patient. i spend long hours with her checking her heart rate,
administering her medication, and just making her comfortable. one night britta told me about a tradition in denmark, "when a person dies," she said, "someone must open the window so the soul can depart." i smiled and squeezed her hand. "not tonight, britta. not tonight." [ female announcer ] to nurses everywhere, thank you, from johnson & johnson. by the armful? by the barrelful? the carful? how about...by the bowlful? campbell's soups give you nutrition, energy, and can help you keep a healthy weight. campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do.
past years who are in the house tonight. we're very glad that our cnn heroes family could be here with us. so thanks for being here. because of your support, they continue to do their life-changing work. now let's go to our next honoree. nelson mandela said education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. but in afghanistan right now the taliban have destroyed hundreds of schools, especially targeting ones that are educating young women and young girls. our next hero has refused to back down, welcoming girls inside the protective walls of the school that she herself built. to tell us about her, please welcome a proud supporter of the segway institute for learning in her hometown of central falls, rhode island, viola davis.
>> let's remember this number -- 32 million. that's how many girls around the world are deprived of a primary school education every day. for too many, they are denied this right simply because they are girls. not allowed to learn how to read and write, add and subtract, understand science and the stars. 32 million brilliant girls told they can't reach for the heavens. that's why razia jan, a woman who embodies the word "courage" says, not on my watch. we're going to change this. and after she saw the towers fall on 9/11, she did just that. she returned to afghanistan to education those girls and help rebuild her country. under looming threats and real danger, she opened the doors of
the zaboli education center. today these students walk with their heads held high, determined to raise their voices after being silenced for too long. and greeting them each day is razia, helping each one dream and say loud and proud, i want to learn. >> i came to afghanistan, and i saw mostly desperate girls. if you see the history, the women and girls have suffered the russian invasion, the taliban, the civil war. for 30 years, the girls weren't allowed to go to school. schoolboys, if they try to cross the road, if they see me, they try to hit my car. they think a woman shouldn't be out of the house, shouldn't drive, shouldn't do anything.
i thought if i can do something to build this school, the best thing is to educate and to start from the very bottom. >> [ speaking foreign language ]. >> when i started this school, my mission was to have a girls' school, and i was not going to change my mind under any circumstances. what they thought is that i will fail and then they can change it into a boys' school. and now the coins have flipped, literally.
>> [ speaking foreign language ]. >> i mean, they are very conservative, but they are not terrorists. we still have a lot of problem in afghanistan. the girls are being threatened. the schools have been burned. they've been poisoned. if they are walking to school, they throw acid on their face. i have security for the school, but we don't have guns. [ speaking foreign language ]. >> my name is nadia. >> [ speaking foreign language ].
the seed of education that was cultivated for my girls five years ago is blooming. i have great hopes and dreams for the future of afghan girls. please hold my hand and let's go together forward and help these girls. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> i can't watch our last hero's story without thinking of a young girl named malala yousafzai, a 14-year-old girl who was shot point-blank in the head in pakistan for speaking out in support of girls' education. she is recovering right now in a hospital in england. her father tells us that malala
is getting better, that she is actually reading books again and that she is walking again. her father asked that i read you a message from malala tonight and she says, thank you so much for the outpouring of love and support. i thank the people who supported me without distinguishing religion and color. people have actually supported a cause, not an individual. let's work together, she says, let's work together to educate girls around the world. thank you, malala and we send our thoughts and our wishes to your continued recovery.
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crest pro-health for life. so jill can keep living the good life. crest. life opens up when you do. so jill can keep living the good life. excuse me, sir i'm gonna have to ask you to power down your little word game. i think your friends will understand. oh no, it's actually my geico app...see? ...i just uh paid my bill. did you really? from the plane? yeah, i can manage my policy, get roadside assistance, pretty much access geico 24/7. sounds a little too good to be true sir. i'll believe that when pigs fly. ok, did she seriously just say that? geico. just click away with our free mobile app. in addition to the ten heroes we are saluting tonight, we are also recognizing young wonders, little kids who make a big difference.
to introduce us to our first young wonder, join us in welcoming david spade. ♪ >> hey, everybody, it's great to be here at the cnn heroes event. you know, a lot of people call me a hero. not people in this room but, you know, out in the streets. because i try to do my part in helping out with different charities. i try to do what i can. actually, i don't want to forget about our own backyard. so i've been working with some charities here in hollywood that some people don't know about. about two weekends a month, i work with a group called kids without beamers. and we go to beverly hills high and we give out red convertible
bmws. to anyone that doesn't have one already and there were two last year. it's a great group. a great bunch of people. check our website. also, i work with some doctors, we gave out free plastic surgery and facelifts to actresses on their 25th birthday. if they can't afford it. and the other day i was walking around, i saw a girl that looked 28 and i said, why? this doesn't have to happen. there's also celebrities -- every six months, i sit with lindsay lohan and we figure out her next horrible career mistake. sometimes she starts heading in the right direction, i say, wait, trust your instincts. that's not why i brought you here tonight. the real reason is i'm actually going to introduce to you a very
cool kid. young wonder, will lorsy. look what this compassionate and brilliant kid did to try to end hunger in this country. >> one day when i drove home from a little league game, i saw homeless man with a cardboard sign that said "need a meal." so i told my mom i wanted to do something. >> will lorsy is a 9-year-old child. i hesitate to call him child, i think he's in a category of his own. as a 7-year-old, he decided he was going to take on this issue of hunger. >> welcome to frogs. >> my group is called frogs and it means friends reaching our goals and our motto is having fun while helping others. i want you to write what we can do for a spring project. >> will's big personality does not come from me. >> fire me up. pepper me. >> i think every time you meet will you look at him and you say, are you kidding me? but together with his buddies,
they have raised over $20,000, or the equivalent of 100,000 meals for tarrant area food bank. >> how about some french baguettes? from india. these peaches are a delight. >> when you see somebody who gets so engaged and gets so much of the community engaged, it's an endorsement of the battle we fight to end hunger. >> thank you for your time and remember, that no matter how tall or small you are, you can make a big difference. [ applause ] >> where is will, by the way? will, stand up, will you? right over there. amazing. he is 6. by the time he is 12, we are all going to be working for him. i guarantee you. throughout tonight's broadcast, check out our live blog at cnn.com/backstage. we have got exclusive behind the scenes videos, got instagram photos, celebrity tweets.
i will be tweeting as well. you can sign in from facebook, twitter, other social media at cnn.com/backstage and you can do that online, on your mobile device, even from the cnn ipad app. now back to our heroes. addiction is no stranger. many of us are touched by its turmoil, whether it's addicts, ourselves or watching loved ones caught in the cycle. it's a force to be reckoned with and our next hero has found a way to channel its destructive power into the healing power of sport. to share his triumphant story is a racing hero who, through example, shows the same perseverance and drive. please welcome the founder of the jeff gordon children's foundation, the amazing jeff gordon. [ applause ] >> recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is never ending work. it takes strength and resolve to rise up and out of that despair.
scott strode has been there. when he was in his early teens, he started drinking and taking drugs to mask his pain. as he got older, he made so many wrong turns that one morning, he woke up on the bathroom floor and knew that one day, his mother might find him there. and would be unable to stir him. in that heartbreaking moment, scott realized that he had to rise up and take control of his life or he was never going to be the person he wanted to be. so he began that recovery. he gave it all up, the drinking, his friends and influences that went along with his life in addiction. and when he looked around, he was all alone. so he found a community through sport. then he did what heroes do, he built his own community, a safe, sober place where others could rise up, too. he did that not just to become a better boxer or climber or runner, but to become the man he
always dreamed he could be. >> one, two, three. when you're really getting after it, climbing on your bike, throwing the bars back and forth, or when you're hanging off a rope, your hands are all pumped, you can barely hold on, something happens. you're there in that moment, everything else melts away. and you're just there. it can fill that void that the drugs and alcohol left. in my recovery from a life of addiction, i did a lot of intense sports. i ended up racing triathlon, eventually i raced iron man. it just changed my self-esteem, started thinking of myself as an athlete instead of an addict. having that experience myself, it made me realize i could give this to other people. and that's where phoenix started. phoenix isn't a formal treatment program. we're not a replacement for 12 step or therapy. but it's crucial, i think.
it gives people a community and it gives them positive coping mechanisms and it gives them a way to redefine themselves as something other than an addict. on any given day, i can look out the back door and see somebody in the throes of their addiction. and i think, how do we get them from that side of the fence into this building? addiction really does strip away our dreams and phoenix is just a vehicle for people to see what they're really capable of. you got it! pull through. nice job, tiffany. >> i'm very grateful to scott for creating this community. a month after i got sober my dad died, and this was the one place i knew that it was okay, that people cared if i was sober. it was like my -- my second family. >> tiffany is, like most of our team members, they walked through some tough stuff in their life. and she just has this courage. it's scary to pass through
personal pain or difficulties in our life, to face those things. it inspires me. i think when you come to phoenix it allows to you let go of some of that shame from your drug use and be whatever you want. you can become a climber, you can become a boxer and later on, you become a good friend and a good son. i think there's a hook to these sports, but we're not just replacing one high for the next. as we shift that self-esteem, you learn how to overcome adversity. it's transformative to stand on top of a mountain. from those heights you can see something in yourself that you can't see from down here and the more time you go up there, you realize that eventually you don't even need the mountain anymore. it's something in your heart and that's when you can really walk away from who you were as an addict and you can walk away proud.
[ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present cnn hero scott strode. [ applause ] >> thank you. sadly, i've seen too many people lose their lives to addiction. i myself could have died over 15 years ago from my own drug and alcohol use. i think of that when i think of the 23 million americans and who knows how many worldwide who are struggling with this disease. i believe that together we can help them rise from the ashes, and who knows what gifts they'll bring to this world. thank you.
[ applause ] >> announcer: coming up, phillip phillips performs live and later jane lynch and olympic gold medalist cullen jones. [ woman ] ring. ring. progresso. i just finished a bowl of your new light chicken pot pie soup and it's so rich and creamy... is it really 100 calories? let me put you on webcan... ...lean roasted chicken... and a creamy broth
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welcome back, our first musical performance is a song that could easily have been written about our heroes tonight, working each day to provide love and care and safe haven to those in need. performing "home," here's phillip phillips. ♪ hold on to me as you go ♪ as we roll down this unfamiliar road ♪
♪ and although this wave is stringing us along ♪ ♪ just know you're not alone ♪ 'cause i'm gonna make this place your home ♪ ♪ settle down, it will all be clear ♪ ♪ don't pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear yeah ♪ ♪ the trouble it might drag you down ♪ ♪ if you get lost you can always be found ♪ ♪ just know you're not alone 'cause i'm gonna make this place your home ♪ ♪ oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
how do you get from here... to here? at university of phoenix we're moving career planning forward so you can start figuring that out sooner. ln fact, by thinking about where want your education to lead, while you're still in school, you might find the best route... leads somewhere you weren't even looking. let's get to work.
welcome back. f. scott fitzgerald said, show me a hero and i'll write you a tragedy. one of the things i find so inspiring about our heroes is many have faced tragic circumstances and they've transformed their grief into action to help others. our next hero dealt with death and now brings life into our world. to tell us how one woman can truly make a great change in the world, please welcome a proud supporter of the mona foundation which promotes early education, particularly for girls in underdeveloped countries, rainn wilson. >> anderson cooper, my personal hero. for some people, no matter how blessed their lives have been or how much hardship they've endured, they cannot ignore a
problem that surrounds them and breaks their hearts. catalina escobar is this kind of woman. she lives in one part of colombia, the part with nice houses, loving families, food and medicine. but she also saw the other part of the country, the place where teen mothers and their babies live in shacks, with hunger, illness, violence, and where children die too often simply because a young mother could not afford medicine. this daily preventable tragedy was something catalina refused to ignore so she started the juan felipe gomez escobar foundation, named for her son. her organization provides women and babies with proper medical care and a place for them to become independent and break this crippling cycle of poverty. it seems impossible that one woman should take on a problem so big, but there is nothing more powerful than a mother with a mission, born from the sorrow of holding her deceased son.
>> when you go around in cartagena, you find such a beautiful city. but then five minutes away, there's little kids living without anything at all. >> [ speaking foreign language ]. >> i used to be a banker, and i was very comfortable, actually. but i cannot be successful if i don't make other people happy around me. the year 2000 i started volunteering at this hospital. a baby was in my hands, and he passed away. and it was a preventable death. that life could have been saved just for $30. period.
my own son died, juan felipe. he was 14 months old. he died because of an accident but not because he lacked resources. no mother in the world should go through that process just a because they don't have the money to cover treatments. when you bury your own son, you start being part of those women's souls. and in 2002 we built an intensive care unit in the hospital. we've saved more than 3,000 babies. but then you discover the problem was bigger. most of these babies come from teenage pregnancies. and many of these girls are sexually abused. >> [ speaking foreign language ].
>> we have to invest in these girls. otherwise, they're going to remain in the cycle of poverty forever. it took us two and a half years to do all the fund-raising, to build the social setup. but now every day 1,000 moms and babies come to our center and they're here for free. they drop their babies at the day care center so they can come and get all the skills. when you give them the tools to become socially productive, they don't need prostitution to earn money. >> [ speaking foreign language ]. >> we have worked with 2,000 girls. the only thing we ask for them is to give the best of thselves.
[ applause ] >> it is my honor to present cnn hero catalina escobar. ♪ [ applause ] >> being here is not a personal achievement. but for the thousands of teenage moms in the poor slums in cartagena, colombia, they are my real, true heroes and the little fighters, the babies, whose lives we have saved.
i am only the person who helps them on their path from misery to dignity. thank you. [ applause ] >> please welcome a proud supporter of st. jude children's research hospital, miranda cosgrove. [ applause ] >> just imagine you have cancer. every day you go to the hospital for treatment. you see others just like you being poked and prodded with needles during chemo. but, unlike you, they have to stay. but because you're a young wonder, you find compassion where others might wallow in their misfortune.
you are jesse res, your heart is greater than most. you are so sick and still, you give the kids something to smile about, true joy in a car. >> jesse was 11 when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. jessie was outpatient, so every day, we would get in the car and drive up to children's hospital of orange county and drive home. one day, we were leaving and she just simply asked us, when do all the other kids come home? what can she do to help them? >> kind of found an empty jar somewhere and she started stuffing things in it. >> put like a green turtle, and a splash ball. >> maybe a car? >> a car? >> yeah. >> took her middle name joy and the jars and that's how the joy jars got birthed. she clearly knew the impact it was making in these kids lives as she was giving them their joy jars. she was really particular about what would go in the jars. it had to be something cool. it couldn't be cheap and flimsy.
>> people from all around the united states who were following her story were saying, hey, can we get some for our friends that have a child fighting cancer? and then it just exploded. >> do you know how many people are helping? why are you doing that? why not make it about you? >> i just wanted to make them happier. because i know that they -- they are going through a lot, too. >> when jess lost her battle with cancer on january 5, 2012, she was 12 years old. ♪ so shine bright tonight >> it's joy for jesse day. >> since jesse's passing we have sent over 27,000 joy jars. >> it's what she started and it's what we will continue to do. >> what makes jesse a young wonder is she cared and in the midst of a world that says focus on yourself, it's all about you,
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this is olivia. she's the love of my life and is almost 13. you know, she's the first thing that i really truly loved and took care of. i was 39 years old. i just had done best in show and fell in love with every dog i met and i was also in therapy, surprise, and my therapist said you should get a dog. i don't think i could be married today, and i don't think i would have the friendships that i have and relationships that i have and i am so thankful to this little girl for opening my heart, and i take care of her and she takes care of me. [ applause ] >> jane lynch is right. we love our dogs, us dog lovers. i'm a dog lover. this is my dog, actually, molly. she has the stinkiest breath you can possibly imagine. it's like a squirrel has crawled
inside her and died, but i still love her. our next hero found an innovative way to partner rescue dogs with people that really need help. of the 2 million soldiers deployed to iraq and afghanistan, one in five returns with posttraumatic stress disorder. here is jane lynch. ♪ >> in the united states military there's a saying "i've got your 6." that means don't worry, i got your back. for our veterans that struggle with the invisible wounds of war that feel isolated with the effects of ptsd and depression, who have to fight to get the care they need and to fight the urge to commit suicide, mary
cortani's got their backs in a profound way. not just because she is a veteran, too, but because she finds these men and women a loyal, loving companion who helps them put their lives back together. three years ago she started matching veterans in need of a service dog with a shelter dog in need of a home. and let me tell you, it's a soulful think to witness this bond at working, training as a team. when they go out in the world, the dog can sense if the veteran is fighting a flashback, becoming overwhelmed with the sounds, and anxiety. the dog calms, the dog watches, and the veteran knows who's got their 6. >> these are two of my friends, really close friends of mine. they were killed in action. being an infantryman, we are trained to see everything. if i don't see something, somebody can die.
coming back to the everyday civilian life, reality didn't make sense anymore. when i find myself walking, i'm scanning for threats that had happened in iraq. i'm looking at windows. i'm looking at roofs. very attractive to movement, who is behind that corner? what is sitting on that balcony? it feels like you are drowning. i thought suicide might have been the best answer. things got better for me when i did meet mary cortani. >> awesome. awesome. what i want you to do is you're going to close your eyes, you're safe. you've got them with you. i'm up here. try to match their breathing. operation freedom paws takes dogs from shelters and rescue groups and matches them with the veteran and disability.
for somebody having an anxiety attack, they can sense that and nudge that arm, give a hug, break the cycle. >> yes, yes. >> if your hand is like this, there's still tension, unnecessary tension. >> olivia just wants to check everything out. >> what characteristics in shadow made you think he would be a good dog for david in particular? >> there's a young energetic man in there that needs a dog that is going to bring out that fun and kid in him again. >> yeah. >> and let him realize that there is some joy. >> your trust in the world is strengthened with the dog and it sounds like it's getting better. >> he is learning to see the world through the dog. >> through the dog. >> she called me up and said, hey, i have your dog. and i show up and there's shadow, he's running around in the building, you know. i knelt down with him and he sat in front of me, you know.
you know, and i -- i hugged the dog. it felt like that piece i was missing was right there. that's why what she does is so vital. she saved my life. you know? >> we want to be able to help as many men and women with disabilities as we can. let's stop the suicide. let's get them the help they need. love heals. love does. especially when it has a wet nose and four paws and a wagging tail. [ applause ] >> please join me in honoring cnn hero mary cortani.
[ applause ] >> this award is not about me. it is about the men and women who so gallantly serve this country and come home injured. we need to do more to let them know that we care. that's what operation freedom paws is all about. thank you, nicky, and my ofp family. [ applause ] >> if you would like to make a donation to any of this year's top ten cnn heroes, you can go
to cnnheroes.com to do that. and through december 31st, google is generously waiving all transaction fees to make sure every dollar that you donate goes to the heroes nonprofits. it's been almost two decades since apartheid ended in africa, bringing in a new era of hope for equality. and 18 years later, seven of ten children live in poverty, and our next hero took matters into his own hands. reigniting the hope that his countrymen fought for years ago. here to illuminate his story is a musician who pledged to feed a billion people in africa using a portion of the proceeds from the sale of his energy drink. please welcome 50 cent. [ applause ] >> it's not easy to start out at the bottom.
in that neighborhood that sits on the shadows of a thriving city, a place where hunger is real, shacks stretch as far as the eye can see and water is carried in buckets. and when you start with so little it's hard to dream about something better. thulani madondo lacked everything except the desire to climb up off the bottom. so he built himself a ladder by doing what he could to get himself a high school education. when he looked down he knew the ladder needed to reach higher. he started an after-school program that gives 400 kids the confidence to climb out of the shadows and feel the warmth of opportunity, and not just in the big city but in the very place they call home. >> there are 45,000 people, without most of the basic things such as electricity, schools or
clinics. this is the home where i was born and raised. there were nine of us lived in this house. my mom with three sisters slept in the bed while all of us boys would sleep on the floor here. i never had a school uniform. i never had pocket money or lunchboxes. my vision when we started the program was it was going to be a place where children would get assisted with their homework as well as food. but not just that. a place where they would take it as a home. >> [ speaking foreign language ].
>> this is our library. we've got grade 12s being tutored and three other grades in each class. ♪ >> kyp members' performance at school have increased because of the tutoring. >> they are the first group to submit. they have confidence and take the lead. >> one thing i tell the children is that children always tell themselves that they are poor because you may be poor in terms of material and wealth but still be rich inside. i am what i thought i wanted to be. >> i am a pilot! >> i am a doctor. >> i'm a social worker.
>> sound engineer. >> i am a police. >> i am a fashion designer. >> i am an actor. >> can you imagine the impact we have if 400 children from the community went to get their university degrees and got good jobs? >> i am an engineer. >> i am a teacher. >> being able to help young people who have never had the opportunity is what i wanted. i never got it, but i was fortunate to help other people get it. it makes me feel good. [ applause ] >> and it is my honor to present the cnn hero thulani madondo. ♪ [ applause ]
>> at kyp we feel so grateful that we can help change the lives of hundreds of children living in shacks. having grown up there ourselves, we know the daily struggles and we know the challenges. for us we have a saying, pull up your own socks, it's a privilege to teach that to the children but even a greater gift to see them doing it. thank you. [ applause ] >> announcer: next, susan sarandon and still to come, josh duhamel and maria bello. ...so as you can see, geico's customer satisfaction is at 97%. mmmm tasty. and cut! very good. people are always asking me how we make these geico adverts.
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many of the stories tonight that you're going to hear involve heroes helping children achieve a basic right, the right just to be children. they are helping to free them from forces beyond their control, inequality and poverty and in our next hero's case, helping free innocent children locked behind bars. here to tell her story, please welcome an actress who's currently producing a documentary on our hero, unicef ambassador, and dream inspiration award winner, susan sarandon. >> one afternoon as part of her research a young college student went to speak with the women imprisoned in a katmandu jail. while she asked questions on one side of the bars, she began to feel something tugging on her clothes. pushpa basnet looked down and
saw a tiny hand clutching the fabric, and then the unexpected eyes of a beautiful little girl, this child wouldn't let go and neither could pushpa. she couldn't live with the fact that in nepal if a parent is convicted and there's no trustworthy guardian to be found, then often the best option for the child is to go to prison with her parent. so pushpa has devoted her life to helping these kids. she created the butterfly home where older children live, go to school, and receive medical care. she also started a day care for the children still too young to leave their parent and walks them every day to and from the prison to a place where they learn to read, draw, and imagine. these boys and girls are loved, and they love pushpa, their mamu.
>> maybe god has sent me to do this thing. we are traveling to a small jail, three hours' drive to kathmandu. you have people there with different crime, like drugs, trafficking, and so now the mother has just called us to come and pick up the child. she said that i am in a prison for drug trafficking. i am scared now that i am in prison, the circle of my friends will traffic my daughter.
we are a family. you are not just dealing with one child, you are dealing with 44 children with 44 various behaviors. every child deserves a good life. we give them education, food, love. this is the most precious time for them, and they are spending it with me. just imagine how lucky i am. [ applause ]
>> it is my honor to present cnn hero pushpa basnet. [ applause ] >> namaste. these children have not done nothing wrong. they are simply caught in something they do not understand. we want to work with the government to bring them all out from the prison, and they deserve a better future. this work is the only thing for me and with your support we can keep going. thank you. [ applause ] coming up, olympic gold medalist cullen jones. and later, we announce the 2012
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i was 5 years old when my parents wanted to take me to a water park. i was really excited. but unfortunately i never had swim lessons. but my dad wanted to get on the biggest ride there and me looking up to him i wanted to follow suit. i pushed off and when i got to the bottom of the ride, unfortunately i flipped upside down. my mom tells the story best, she heard her only child screaming
having a great time and then nothing. she pulls herself down trying to get to me to save me. but unfortunately she was not comfortable in the water either, and she began to drown at the bottom of the pool. my dad had to dive in and got my mom and the lifeguard came and got me. a child can drown in 20 seconds, and i was under for 30, and that day changed my life forever. >> the little boy in that story grew up to become two-time olympic gold medalist in swimming, cullen jones. like our next hero, he's dedicated himself to make sure all kids, especially african-american children, learn how to swim through his work with make a splash and the usa swimming foundation. please welcome cullen jones. [ applause ] >> six years ago on a beautiful day a boy named josh grabbed a raft and drifted out onto a lake.
as he rested there in the summer sun he didn't know he had floated out to where the water was too deep. when the raft flipped over, josh was in trouble. he didn't know how to swim. this 16-year-old boy filled with so much promise drowned. wanda butts grieved her son morning, noon and night. and after a year she was determined to turn her son's tragedy into triumph. to it try to make sure this doesn't happen to any other. so she had an idea. teach the boys and girls in toledo, ohio, how to swim. i can't tell you how thrilling it is to see these boys and girls walk on the edge of a swimming pool, they jump in, and because of wanda they aren't afraid of the water anymore. they feel safe. they can kick, move, break the surface and breathe.
>> i believe that swimming is a basic life skill. but i learned that too late. i lost josh on august the 6th, 2006. he was special. josh was my peach. my son drowned. as a child, i was never taught about the dangers of water. my parents didn't talk about it. no one in our community ever talked about it. so i never learned, and i never taught josh. african-american children are three times more likely to drown than white children. that's a problem. drowning is a silent death. and i had enough of the silence. who wants to learn to swim today?
i started the josh project to teach kids how to swim. my daughter, my two grandsons and i were the first four students, and now over 1,200 children have gone through the josh project. no more expensive lessons. no more telling our kids not to get their hair wet. no more excuses. all right. you doing okay? i want to reach every child in every school, and every church. i even invited cullen jones to come and speak to my kids. >> not learning to swim is definitely something that is generational in the african-american community. i see myself in these kids. i still remember how it felt when i almost drown. that's why i feel the josh project is so amazing because it sheds a lot of light on what can happen.
>> i want these kids to teach their kids, to learn to swim. part of my life's journey is losing my own fear of water. i'm going to do it. i think the most important part of cullen jones' story is that he got to grow up. i love hearing what these kids want to be when they grow up. >> a navy s.e.a.l. >> a teacher. >> a lifeguard. >> josh didn't get to grow up, but he's with me every day. >> good job! [ applause ]
our responsibility as adults is to give them this basic life skill. my son, josh, is my hero, because his life gave my life meaning. next sunday would be his 23rd birthday. happy birthday, josh, i love you. thank you. [ applause ] please welcome a supporter of the one word kid charity, rico rodriguez. >> by working together we can solve problems, even big ones. this is what a young wonder does. they look at a problem in a creative way and say i'm going to fix this, and that is exactly what cassandra lynn did. she had this amazing idea and she brought three things together, concern for the environment and families that needed to heat their homes and leftover restaurant cooking oil.
it's genius. and there's no reason this can't be done all over the world tomorrow. so check this out. >> when i was young i heard about global warming and i knew there was huge consequences for this problem, so i got together with my friends and we found out you actually could turn waste cooking oil into biodiesel fuel, because many families in my own town couldn't afford to 9 heat their homes, i thought maybe we could use the recycled cooking oil to heat their homes. we made a difference and so can you. >> we were just worried about keeping our kids warm and having heat and hot water. it was a major relief. >> i was trying to talk about biodiesel and could not get anywhere with it, and she came along and did it to get restaurants to recycle their grease. >> our bill will also promote the use of alternative energy. >> the fact that it was coming
from kids made it hit home a little harder. the child shall lead them, sort of thing. she set the example for the town. and it's great that westerly has a person that we can be proud of and tell the rest of the country, look what we're doing in little westerly, rhode island, on the shore. >> if everybody gave a little something back and took a little time out of their day to do something for others, the world would be a better place. [ applause ] >> next, maria bello honors a haitian hero and later ne-yo performs live. we were so blessed when we had triplets if by blessed you mean freaked out about money well we suddenly noticed
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it's lots of things. all waking up. ♪ becoming part of the global phenomenon we call the internet of everything. ♪ trees will talk to networks will talk to scientists about climate change. cars will talk to road sensors will talk to stoplights about traffic efficiency. the ambulance will talk to patient records will talk to doctors about saving lives. it's going to be amazing. and exciting. and maybe, most remarkably, not that far away. the next big thing? we're going to wake the world up.
heart, haiti. nearly three years have passed, and haiti is still dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake that killed so many. hundreds of thousands of haitians still live in makeshift camps where safety, especially for women, is a very real concern. our next hero runs the primary organization for women in dire need. like a lot of stories coming out of haiti, this one is difficult to hear and it may be inappropriate for some young viewers, but it's a story that needs to be told. to explain more, please welcome maria bello. [ applause ] >> in the language of creole, there is a term. [ speaking foreign language ] it means the center pillar of the house. and this is what haitian women are. they're the breadwinners, the
teachers, the caregivers all across the beautiful country i call my second home. malya villard-appolon knows this. not just because she's the pillar for her family, but also for thousands of women and children who have survived the atrocities of rape and domestic violence. i have seen firsthand how lives are transformed because of the extraordinary work of malya and her team. it's inspiring to be with you and josie, to hear from reginald and michelle. all of the women there and the children that witness how haitian women know what haitian women need. they need someone who comforts them in the hospital, files complaints with the police, and recruits young men to be security guards and patrol the camps. someone who hands out whistles
[ applause ] >> three words have marked me -- women, strength and pride, which my friend embodies so fiercely. when i say women, think of all the women who stood up to say no to violence. when i say strength, find it no matter what to help the victims. this is what we feel when we feel pride every time we do the work that we do. malya would like to say thank you because without the support of madre and our other partners, we wouldn't be here today. thank you so much. merci. >> merci. [ applause ] incredibly inspiring story. car crashes -- you may not know this -- are the number one cause of death for teenagers in the
united states, and one-third is alcohol related. our next hero is changing those numbers by laying down a life-saving challenge tho teens in montana. here to introduce our next hero is someone who helps keep young people alive through his support, josh duhamel. [ applause ] >> hello. under montana's big sky in the city of butte, there's a road with a white fence, and along that fence you'll find a cross that bears the name mariah, and it is only a block from where she lived and it marks the place where she was walking with friends when a drunk driver hit and killed this wonderful 14-year-old girl. sometimes you might see her father, leo mccarthy, there on
bended knee, leaving some flowers, decorating the spot with jack lan -- jack-o'-lanterns on halloween or wiping a tear. but even in her death, she is making a difference. leo started mariah's challenge, a scholarship for students who pledge not to drink before they are 21 and never get in a car with anyone who has been drinking. so far 8,000 young people have taken this pledge. this shows how a father's grief can bring more than tears. it can bring lasting change to a family, a city, a state, an entire generation of young people. >> my town is butte, montana. it has a great history of hard living. the rite of passage here of
drinking seems to start in teenage years. that culture has continued even when our society has changed. >> good job! >> mariah was so full of fun. october 27, 2007, mariah was 14. she was plowed over by a drunk driver. our innocence was changed, and the town's innocence was changed. >> the kids i talk to around montana is seventh grade to senior in high school. if they take mariah's challenge, we will give them money for college or a trade school. >> i am the voice of mariah's challenge. mariah is the face of mariah's challenge. but the living face, the breathing face are you people.
it's about you changing a culture. you know, this nation we lose somebody every 15 minutes to alcohol-related fatalities. and what is so unbelievable, it can change. >> well, first, we need to start with the weekends. that's the hardest part. you're just home alone, and there's that temptation. i think the best that we can do is, like i said before, lead by example. >> it's a great feeling to have youth come up and say, i am mariah's challenge. >> you just give like a lot of courage to me. thank you. >> be strong, okay? you're my hero. >> i know she's smiling. i think she would be damn proud of it. i will do mariah's challenge until we don't need it. if it can change here, it can
let's change the culture and keep these promising, smart, funny, vibrant kids alive. we need them. thank you. [ applause ] next, ne-yo performs before we announce the 2012 hero of the year. ur rate cd. ur rate cd. tonight our guest, thomas sargent. nobel laureate in economics, and one of the most cited economists in the world. professor sargent, can you tell me what cd rates will be in two years? no. if he can't, no one can. that's why ally has a raise your rate cd. ally bank. your money needs an ally.
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♪ never doubt, never doubt, here for you, here for me ♪ ♪ worry not ♪ i'll be there, strength when you feel weak ♪ ♪ in the dark when you can't see ♪ ♪ guiding light, i will be ♪ all i need, all i need ♪ is for you to do the same for me ♪ ♪ cuz even heroes need heroes sometimes ♪ ♪ even the tell them it's all right ♪ ♪ and even heroes need heroes sometimes ♪ ♪ will you be my hero tonight?
♪ just look up, up so high ♪ just above you is where i fly ♪ ♪ but if i fall from the sky ♪ on you can i rely ♪ i'll protect you from the world ♪ ♪ wherever i can ♪ but will you do the same for me ♪ ♪ now and again ♪ even heroes need heroes sometimes ♪ ♪ and even the strong need someone to tell them it's all right ♪ ♪ even heroes ♪ need heroes sometimes ♪ will you be my hero tonight? ♪ come to my, my rescue
coming up, we reveal the 2012 cnn hero of the year. in that time there've been some good days. and some difficult ones. but, through it all, we've persevered, supporting some of the biggest ideas in modern history. so why should our anniversary matter to you? because for 200 years, we've been helping ideas move from ambition to achievement. and the next great idea could be yours. ♪ [ sniffs ] i took dayquil but my nose is still runny. [ male announcer ] truth is, dayquil doesn't treat that. really? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your runny nose. [ breathes deeply ] awesome. [ male announcer ] yes, it is. that's the cold truth! welcome to chevy's year-end event. so, the 5.3-liter v8 silverado can tow up to 9,600 pounds? 315 horsepower.
welcome back. cnn has awarded each of our incredible top ten heroes $50,000 to carry on their inspiring work. in addition, the annenberg foundation, which is a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide is graciously providing this year's nominees with free training, including practical guidance on fund-raising, communications management, and more. now, we gave you the opportunity to go to cnn.com and vote for the hero of the year. more than 5 million votes were cast around the world and all of our heroes received an immense amount of support. the hero of the year will receive an additional $250,000
>> thank you so much. this award means a lot to me. still, mom is going to take you out from the prison and you're coming to my place. and this is for my children and this is going back to my country, nepal. and thank you so much everyone who voted for me and believed in my dream. thank you. >> i want to invite all our honorees back on stage, all of our cnn heros from this year. these heroes stand tall against abuse, against injustice, against inequality. please continue to help their causes by donating to cnnheroes.com. and i hope some of tonight's stories have