Ordinary people doing extraordinary things is what it’s all about with CNN’s annual tribute. “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” was broadcast Sunday night, honoring the network’s Top 10 “heroes,” with one lucky individual being named the “CNN Hero of the Year,” earning $100,000 for their cause.
For 2014, that person was Pen Farthing, who works to reunite military soldiers with stray dogs they befriended while serving abroad. Farthing’s charity, Nowzad Dogs, has helped 700 soldiers from eight countries.
“I would really like to thank everybody who voted for Nowzad Charity and [for supporting] what we do in Afghanistan and for believing in us,” Farthing said at the event, which was held Tuesday, Nov. 18 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
The top honor was selected by CNN’s audience via an online poll. All of their stories and respective charities and nonprofit organizations can be found at CNNHeroes.com, and people are invited to donate to their causes through Dec. 31.
“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 CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker. “We are proud to provide a platform for these heroes to share their stories and their important work with our global audiences.”
The two-hour special paired the top 10 “heroes” on-stage with celebrities to tell their stories. The nine individuals spotlighted who did not get voted the highest honor will each receive $25,000 toward their causes.
Celebrity partners included Benedict Cumberbatch, Taye Diggs, Uzo Aduba, Taye Diggs and John Leguizamo. The special also featured appearances by QuestLove of The Roots, Kathy Griffin, Kelly Ripa and Morgan Spurlock.
Nick Jonas, Tyler James Williams and Quvenzhane Wallis made an appearance to shine a spotlight on and present awards to “young wonders” who are contributing to their communities in positive and beneficial ways.
Musical performances throughout the night were presented by Trisha Yearwood, who sang her latest single “PrizeFighter,” and a special performance of “Wide River to Cross” by Sheryl Crow along with “Hero” Arthur Bloom and his MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band.
Honored along with Farthing and Bloom were Jon Burns, who reaches out to soccer fans to help children from communities that host the World Cup; Rabbi Elemelech Goldberg, who uses martial arts to help children battling serious illnesses; Leela Hazzah, who works in lion conservation; Patricia Kelly, who uses horses to help motivate at-risk children; Annette March-Grier, who helps children and families with the grief process after the loss of a loved one; Ned Norton, who offers strength and conditioning training to people with disabilities; Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes, who offers a haven for young people in Guatemala and Dr. Wendy Ross, who works with autistic children and their families to expand their horizons.