The top 10 CNN Heroes of 2014 each receive $25,000 for their efforts to help change the world
They will also be honored at "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," which airs December 7
The Hero of the Year, chosen by CNN's global audience, receives an additional $100,000
They protect lions, teach music to injured soldiers and open new worlds to autistic youth.
They help children who are fighting cancer, poverty and a lack of opportunity.
These are the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2014.
For their extraordinary efforts to change the world, each of these everyday people will receive $25,000 and be recognized at “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” a globally broadcast event that airs Sunday, December 7.
One of the top 10 will be named CNN Hero of the Year on Tuesday, November 18 and receive an additional $100,000 for his or her cause.
The star-studded tribute show will be hosted by Anderson Cooper at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
“It has been CNN’s great honor for the past eight years to shine a spotlight on these remarkable individuals who are making a difference in their communities and the world,” said Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide. “We are proud to provide a platform for these heroes to share their stories and their important work with our global audiences.”
Since 2007, the CNN Heroes campaign has profiled more than 200 people on CNN and CNN.com. This year’s top 10 were nominated by CNN’s global audience and profiled earlier this year on CNN.
Here are the top 10 Heroes of 2014, in alphabetical order:
Arthur Bloom has used the healing power of music to help hundreds of injured soldiers recover their lives. His program, MusiCorps, pairs professional musicians with troops recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, helping them play instruments and write and record music. “By injecting music into this space, we can inject life,” Bloom said. “There’s nothing injured about the way they do it. It’s just good music.”
Jon Burns is rallying fellow soccer fans to help children from poor communities in cities hosting the World Cup and other major tournaments. Since 2006, his nonprofit, Lionsraw, has engaged more than 500 volunteers in construction projects and educational programs that have benefitted nearly 6,000 children. “We’re trying to harness the passion of football fans to make a difference,” he said.
Pen Farthing, a former Royal Marine Sergeant, is reuniting soldiers with the stray dogs they befriend while serving in Afghanistan. His nonprofit, Nowzad Dogs – named for the stray Farthing rescued during his tour – has helped more than 700 soldiers from eight countries. “My connection with Afghanistan stayed alive because of Nowzad,” Farthing said. “To be able to get that animal home to them, it closes the loop.”
Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg lost his 2-year-old daughter to leukemia in 1981. Today, his nonprofit, Kids Kicking Cancer, uses martial arts to help children battling serious illnesses manage pain during medical treatments. The group has provided free lessons and support for 5,000 children and their families. “They’re often so afraid,” Goldberg said. “We teach kids how to control their pain and make them feel powerful.”
Leela Hazzah has dedicated her life to lion conservation. In 2007, she started Lion Guardians, a nonprofit that works with African Maasai warriors to protect lions. The group now employs more than 70 Lion Guardians throughout East Africa and has helped the lion population grow. “I know we’re making a difference,” Hazzah said. “When I first moved here, I never heard lions roaring. But now I hear lions roaring all the time.”
Patricia Kelly is using horses to motivate at-risk children in Hartford, Connecticut. Her nonprofit, Ebony Horsewomen, provides horseback riding lessons and teaches animal science to more than 300 young people a year. “We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing,” said Kelly. “They learn that they have ability. They just have to unlock it.”
Annette March-Grier grew up in her family’s funeral home. After her mother’s death, she created Roberta’s House, a nonprofit in Baltimore that helps children and their families cope with grief. Since 2008, more than 1,000 children have benefited from the group’s free programs. “We’re giving families in this city a sense of hope,” she said. “We’re helping to heal wounds and bring families back together again.”
For the last 25 years, Ned Norton has provided strength and conditioning training to people living with a variety of disabilities. He now trains more than 120 people every week through his nonprofit, Warriors on Wheels. “I’m building them up, building them stronger, so they can go out and live life like they’re supposed to.” Norton said.
Amid the violence in his native Guatemala, Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes turned his family’s home into a haven for young people. Since 2006, his nonprofit, Los Patojos (the Little Ones), has provided educational opportunities and support to more than 1,000 children. I want to inspire these kids,” he said. “They are the ones in charge of writing the new history in Guatemala.”
Dr. Wendy Ross is opening new worlds to autistic children and their families. Since 2010, her nonprofit, Autism Inclusion Resources, has helped hundreds of families navigate challenging social situations, such as sporting events and airport travel. “If you start taking steps outside of your door, your world gets bigger and bigger,” said Ross. “We just want people to have opportunities.”
As part of their award package, each top 10 Hero will also receive free organizational training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide. The Heroes will participate in a customized version of the Annenberg Alchemy program, which offers practical guidance to help strengthen organizations for long-term success.