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Kidney transplant inspired Lopez

updated 1:18 PM EST, Mon November 7, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Comedian George Lopez underwent a kidney transplant in 2005
  • Now he is trying to help young people who are also struggling with kidney disease
  • The Lopez Foundation assists underprivileged kids, adults and military families

Editor's note: Voting is under way for the 2011 CNN Hero of the Year. The winner will be announced at "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," which airs live December 11 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. See the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011 and cast your vote at CNNHeroes.com.

(CNN) -- George Lopez is helping to create positive change for underprivileged children, adults and military families.

In 2009, he started The Lopez Foundation, which provides and supports education and health programs for those in need. The group also increases awareness about kidney disease and organ donation. Lopez underwent a kidney transplant in 2005.

Lopez was a presenter at "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" in 2009. CNN's Denise Quan recently spoke with him about CNN Heroes and his own charity's efforts. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Denise Quan: How do you feel about the work that the CNN Heroes are doing?

George Lopez: For people who are in show business, so many times we get rewarded for being in a movie or being in a television show. But these are the unsung heroes who are out there, rain or shine. Nothing is more powerful to them but to help.

The one thing that connects all the Heroes is their intent is to help. And it's almost like hands across the world: You're touching people that need help in your area, but yet it's bigger than that -- it's global. It's what people do to maintain our humanity.

Quan: What prompted you to start The Lopez Foundation?

Lopez: I received my kidney transplant six years ago and have been healthier than I have ever been in my life. And it's inspired me to give back and to create the foundation and to make a difference in the lives of those people in need.

I started The Lopez Foundation in December of 2009, and the mission is to create positive and permanent change for underprivileged children, adults and, very importantly, military families, as well as increasing the awareness of kidney disease and organ donation.

Quan: What's rewarding about your work with the foundation?

Lopez: When I have the kidney camp, it's always the highlight. I have a summer camp, and it's amazing to see how children will respond when they're given the opportunity to just be regular kids. They get to run into kids who are also experiencing the same issues that they have, whether it's dialysis or kidney disease.

They talk about taking their medicine. They also realize that whether they are the only person sick in their family or their school, they are not alone.

Quan: You support CNN Hero Jorge Munoz and his efforts to feed the hungry. What is it about his work that moved you?

Lopez: People who are homeless ... they're not all addicts. A lot of times, they're just people who, through something like losing their job or losing someone in their life, ended up on the streets.

So much of our time is spent in cars that sometimes you need to look out of those windows. And you see that a dollar, 50 cents, whatever you have, may not mean much to you, but it means everything to people who are hungry and who are in need.

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