They clean up rivers, build homes for disabled veterans and bring health care to some of the darkest parts of the world.
They help children who are fighting cancer, poverty and a lack of opportunity.
These are the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013. And two of them are from the Charlotte-area including Purple Heart Homes founder Dale Beatty and “Sow Much Good” founder Robin Emmons.
For their extraordinary efforts to change the world, each of these everyday people will receive $50,000 and be recognized at “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” a globally broadcast event that airs December 1.
One of the top 10 will receive an additional $250,000 for their cause if the public chooses them as the CNN Hero of the Year.
You can vote for your favorite Hero now at CNNHeroes.com or from your mobile device. The winner will be revealed during the tribute show, which will be hosted by Anderson Cooper at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
“I’ve long admired the CNN Heroes tribute, but even more, the heroes themselves,” said Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide. “We are proud to share the stories of these 10 exceptional individuals and to continue one of CNN’s most important traditions.”
This is the seventh year CNN has conducted its annual search for CNN Heroes. In those years, the 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 2013, in alphabetical order:
After Dale Beatty lost his legs in the Iraq war, his community thanked him for his service by helping him build a home. To pay it forward, Beatty co-founded Purple Heart Homes, which has helped build or modify homes for dozens of disabled U.S. veterans. “We wouldn’t leave someone behind on the battlefield,” Beatty said. “Why would we do it at home?”
For decades, Georges Bwelle watched his father suffer, unable to get the medical attention he needed. Now a doctor, Bwelle travels into the jungles of his native Cameroon nearly every weekend, providing free medical care for those who don’t have access to good health care. “To make people laugh, to reduce the pain, that’s why I’m doing this,” he said.
More than 72,000 people in Charlotte, North Carolina, lack access to fresh produce. When Robin Emmons discovered this problem, she took action. “I decided to rip up my whole backyard and make it all a garden for people in need,” she said. Since 2008, Emmons has grown more than 26,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables for area residents.
Foster children don’t often get the things other children do, but Danielle Gletow is trying to help change that. She posts their wishes online so the public can help grant them. “I’m here to be the mom to all these kids who might not feel like they have one,” she said. Since 2008, her group has helped grant more than 6,500 wishes in 42 states.
Tawanda Jones is using dance to empower the youth of Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities in the country. Through Jones’ drill team program, at least 4,000 children have learned discipline, respect and community service — and all of them have graduated high school. “We need to take back our city and, most importantly, take back our youth,” Jones said.
For many children fighting cancer, it can be extremely tough to make it to their chemotherapy appointments. But Richard Nares started a group that gives them transportation and support. “No child should miss their cancer treatment due to lack of transportation,” said Nares, who lost his son to leukemia in 2000.
Kakenya Ntaiya is inspiring change in her native Kenyan village. After becoming the first woman in the village to attend college in the United States, she returned to open the village’s first primary school for girls. “Our work is about empowering the girls,” Ntaiya said. “They are dreaming of becoming lawyers, teachers, doctors.”
Chad Pregracke has made it his life’s work to clean up the Mississippi River and other American waterways. Since 1998, about 70,000 volunteers have helped Pregracke remove more than 7 million pounds of garbage from 22 rivers across the country. “Picking up garbage, it’s tough, miserable and hot,” Pregracke said. “We try to make it fun.”
Estella Pyfrom used her life savings to create “Estella’s Brilliant Bus,” a mobile computer lab that provides tutoring for thousands of low-income students in Palm Beach County, Florida. “It’s not just a bus, it’s a movement,” Pyfrom said. “And we’re going to keep making a difference.”
Laura Stachel created a special “solar suitcase” to help health-care workers deliver babies in more than 20 developing countries. “I really want a world where women can deliver babies safely and with dignity,” Stachel said.
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.