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Champions For Change Special. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 18, 2019 - 20:00   ET




SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE: Every journalist has that story, the one they just can't forget. It usually involves someone who broke the mold, who left a mark on their community, on humanity and on all of us, the reporters telling their story.

Over the last several months, my colleagues and I decided to once again track down those remarkable individuals behind these unforgettable stories. And tonight, we're going to take you along for the ride.

Tonight, we want to introduce you to our Champions for Change.

Good evening. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. There's a lot of bitterness in the news these days and it can be sometimes too easy to miss the good stories, the good people, the ones quietly striving to make the world better.

12 of my colleagues here at CNN recently reconnected with some of the people we've covered over the last couple of decades, focusing on individuals who were so deeply affected by what happened to them, but they now spend their lives making a difference. And I can tell you this, all of us have been inspired by them.

Later, I'm going to introduce you to my Champion for Change. But, first, let's start with my colleague, John Berman. 11 years ago he met a group of singers belting out rock songs. Their average age, 84. They are called the Young@Heart Chorus. And as you watch them and hear them, you're going to probably sing along, you're probably going to tap your feet, but you're also going to be reminded of what is possible at any age.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Young at Heart Chorus has a unique membership.

BOB CILMAN, DIRECTOR, YOUNG@HEART CHORUS: It's a performance group of older people ranging in age now from 75 to 90.

BERMAN: And how young are you?


BERMAN: When you're up there singing, do you feel 90?

STEVE MARTIN, MEMBER, YOUNG@HEARTS: No, I don't feel any age.

BERMAN: And the Chorus has a unique repertoire.

Seniors singing rock and roll is a simplistic way of saying it, yes?

CILMAN: It is. It's a very limited way of saying it. Yes.

BERMAN: But why limited?

CILMAN: Because there's more to it than that.

I think for older people, I think it's a real joy to see old people on stage as opposed to in the seats in the audience. And I think that breaks a lot of rules. And I think that the music we choose to do breaks a bit of the mold of what seniors are used to singing.

MARTIN: Don't give up when you get older. Don't be afraid of getting old because you have so much to offer, you have so much to give.

BERMAN: So the first time I visited with the Young@Heart Chorus, it was 2008. I had spent much of the previous five years going back and forth to Baghdad covering the U.S. war in Iraq. I meet Young@Heart and what I really need more than anything is a story that's not violent and will just make me smile. And, man, did I find it.

When I first met you, which Was 11 years ago --

MARTIN: Right.

BERMAN: You told me that --

MARTIN: It's like the Super Bowl. It's like the world's best bar mitzvah and being ordained as the pope. I still feel that way. It gave me a purpose to want to wake up in the morning and come to rehearsal and participate in something that just was great.

BERMAN: And everyone needs to participate. As I learned, even a reporter can't stand around and watch.

We were pretty much getting ready to go and you said to me, no, wait a minute.

So I sang Barry Manilow's Copacabana.

The Chorus, as you told me, is always about 25, 26 members and it changes.


BERMAN: The membership changes. CILMAN: Yes, it does. And, you know, we lose a lot of people. We've lost a lot of people. There's probably maybe four or five people left from the Chorus you saw in 2008.


BERMAN: So 11 years ago, Young@Heart had performed in a prison, basically, once or twice. They went and they sang before the prisoners and it was a very moving experience but it was performance. Now, 11 years later, it's part of their program. They're inside the prisons singing with the prisoners.

When you hear that Young@Heart is coming, when you see on the calendar --

AARON FOGG, INMATE, HAMPSHIRE COUNTY JAIL: I get excited. I get excited. I -- like I'll be sitting -- it will be like the night before and I already want to go to bed early. It's what keeps me going, definitely.

CILMAN: They know it's an hour or an hour-and-a-half where they're going to be to be able to really just express themselves in a way they feel comfortable doing.

BERMAN: What's change for you since we've first met?

CILMAN: My age. I have -- I've become one of them. You know, it's like I'm now 65. You know, I get Medicare. And the average age of this group is 84. I can't imagine what I'm going to be doing when I'm 84. I look at what they're doing and I have a deep appreciation for it all.

BERMAN: And I do too because if they can do it, who am I to say no to a little James Brown.

MARTIN: This Chorus, someday, people will look back and they'll say, they did good things for people of all ages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can quit your day job.

BERMAN: I'm not going to have a day job.


GUPTA: I am convinced now that John Berman really can do just about anything, even sing. I love this story because as you might guess, it's not just about the singing. It's about the brain positively changing in response to singing. It's the social tribe. And, again, a great reminder that there's nothing wrong with growing old, embrace it.

Now, from musical camaraderie to barbershop fellowship. Brooke Baldwin first talked race relations with rapper Killer Mike five years ago. It was just after the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. They pick up now where they left off, a short time ago at a place where no topic is off limits. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE RENDER, ACTIVIST AND RAPPER: The barbershop and the black barbershop in particularly has always been a social center for a country club of sorts.

So this is an hour a week that the average guy can come and just be spoiled. You can have intellectual dialogue with people you agree and disagree with, and you can do it in a safe place.


GUPTA: And you can see the rest of Brooke's story at

But up next, Bill Weir takes us to a place known as the island where people forget to die. His Champion for Change uses old world habits to help Americans live longer, happier lives.



GUPTA: My friend, Bill Weir, has met some fascinating older people in all of his travels. They live where folks tend to enjoy unusually long and healthy lives, the so-called Blue Zones. Now, the man who coined that term recently showed Bill how a few Blue Zone habits are now changing lives in middle America.


BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: If you take a ferry from Mykonos, past landmarks of Greek Mythology, you will discover Icaria, the island where people forget to die, a place where people live to age 90 at a rate of up to four times greater than Americans with a fraction of our rates of dementia and Alzheimer's.

DAN BUETTNER, FELLOW, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: So life expectancy in America is 79. We should be able to live up to 92. Somewhere along the line, we're leaving 13 years on the table.

WEIR: And when a National Geographic explorer named Dan Buettner found this place, something clicked.

BUETTNER: So my quest is how do we get those extra 13 years and how do we make those extra 13 years good years.

WEIR: That one question sent him on a lifelong quest to bring back the secrets of the happiest, healthiest centenarians in the world. Every time his team found a pocket of longevity, they'd circle it on a map in blue ink. And they learned that in these Blue Zones, nine key lifestyle choices mattered just as much or more than good genes.

Can you rattle off the nine?

BUETTNER: Move naturally every day, be able to articulate your sense of purpose, have daily rituals that reverse the stress of everyday living, have a little wine at 5:00, eat mostly a plant-based diet, especially beans and nuts, eat a huge breakfast, belong to a faith- based community, put your family first, keep your aging parents nearby and curate a special group of friends, four or five friends, who are going to nudge you in the right direction.

WEIR: His lessons stuck with me. As I traveled the world over the years, I assumed that Blue Zones were only for small, simple, isolated societies where the healthy choice is the only choice.

This could never work in the modern land of the free, home of the whopper, right? Wrong. Bucking the status quo with science and common sense, Dan has blue zoned the entire States of Iowa and Hawaii, 45 American cities, including one of the biggest and unhealthiest in the land.

When I asked for a blue zone in the United States and you told me Fort Worth, Texas, I thought you were pulling my leg.

MAYOR BETSY PRICE (R-TX): When my kids were in high school, I watched their friends just getting more and more out of shape. And that's happening to our whole population, particularly in Texas, the land of chicken fried steak barbeque and Mexican food.

WEIR: When Mayor Betsy Price realized her city full of sedentary and obese smokers ranked near the bottom of national wellness surveys, she started holding rolling town halls. And then she brought in Dan and Blue Zones.

BUETTNER: And the response from the room, all the leaders there up on the 15th floor of the Fort Worth Club was, I don't know, it sounds like you're taking our freedoms away from us. And I said, fine, then keep doing what you're doing. And Betsy Price said no, no, I think we ought to give Dan a chance.

PRICE: Show bill how we roll in Fort Worth.

WEIR: The republican mayor built more parks and sidewalks and got behind the Blue Zone's idea to create walking school buses, which gives seniors a sense of purpose each morning, tightens community, and gets kids moving.

While the city bans smoking in bars and restaurants, Dan's team convinced convenience stores and food deserts (ph) to sell more fruits and veggies.

BUETTNER: How much do you end up throwing away?


BUETTNER: None, sells all? That's fantastic. I love it.

WEIR: They got steakhouses to offer more healthy options.

This may be the first time in my life I ever ordered a vegetarian taco. And he taught the folks at Texas Health Resources that the most coveted parking spots should be the ones farthest away from the building.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, doing a row of the Blue Zone's parking spaces encourages people to just take a little walk, not a big one, but a little walk.

WEIR: As the CEO explains, this only works with buy-in from everyone, government, business, faith communities. And in five years, he says they've moved up in wellness rankings from 185th in the nation, to number 31, saving around $250 million.

BUETTNER: The people we saw in Icaria, if you asked them how they got to be a hundred, they probably couldn't tell you. They just live their life. They herd their goats, they tended their garden, they spend time with their family, they went to church on Sundays, they went to parties during the summer. But they were getting good sleep. They were eating mostly plant-based food. They were nudged in a moment every 20 minutes as a residue of their environment. And we're just trying to take that blueprint from places like Icaria and land it over places like Fort Worth, Texas. And lo and behold, it works.

WEIR: It works.

And that is why Dan Buettner is my Champion for Change, proving that with a few healthy nudges, we can all create our own islands where people forget to die.


GUPTA: And I'm now joined by Bill Weir. Good to see you, buddy.

WEIR: Hi, doc, great to see you.

GUPTA: You get to travel to these amazing places.

WEIR: It's nice.

GUPTA: You look really beautiful. You know, all these places you've gone to, I always want to ask you this, what do you think that they share in common that allows these people to live these long lives?

WEIR: Well, that's the thing I came away with working with Dan is you go to a place like Icaria, you think it's a magic bullet, you think it's something in the water. And maybe it's the local honey they use every morning to coat their G.I. tract, but it's really buck shot. It's nine things that he talked about in there, it's community, a sense of purpose, it's if you don't go to church, someone is going to come knocking on your door to check on you, getting plugged into that. So, you know, the way human beings evolved as a sort of tribal, small, provincial communities like that.

And I try to copy that stuff when I come back from these trips and invariably gets sucked into Twitter, Facebook or bingeing on Netflix and losing track. But it is really common sense.

GUPTA: Do you change your life after these trips? Have you done things differently?

WEIR: I have. I have. I have instated, you know, newfound family dinners and sort of digital de-tox weekends and really made a deliberate choice to plug into what those folks have. But I am a true American creature and that my parents sort of went into the winds, you know, family living all over, it's hard to stay together, it's part of the American dream, you're moving on, and those sorts of things. But I do. I do try to copy the best as I can.

GUPTA: Yes. I always thought of social time sort of as a luxury. And I think after reading some of Dan's work and watching these pieces, it's a necessary thing. It does more for you than you realize. It's amazing work. I think there's lessons in there for all of us.

WEIR: I hope so.

GUPTA: Maybe you and I can go get a happy hour sometime. We'll live longer.

WEIR: We'll live at least an hour longer.

GUPTA: Bill Weir, thanks so much.

WEIR: Thank you, doctor.

GUPTA: And you know, Sometimes our greatest triumphs come at those times when we are most challenged. So what if you were a runner, a dancer even and you lost your leg? What would you do? It's probably not something you would ever think about until it is all you can think about.

The story of Heather Abbott through the eyes of Poppy Harlow when we come back.



GUPTA: What I was really struck that so many of our Champions for Change are young people, like David Hogg and his sister, Lauren. Alisyn Camerota first met them last year just after the siblings had survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since then, you've probably seen them, maybe heard them as they become leaders in this powerful movement that has been steadily and forcefully pushing lawmakers to take action against gun violence.

And also now, another story about harrowing survival leading to remarkable service. As Poppy Harlow tells it, her champion, Heather Abbott, loved to wear high heels, but thought those days were over after she lost her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing. Instead, Heather developed a new passion for herself, yes, but for many other amputees as well, trying to make them feel whole again.


HEATHER ABBOTT, BOSTON MARATHON SURVIVOR: I accepted what happened pretty early on when I recognized that I couldn't change it, to be able to feel like my old self and not have to change something that I love to do because I lost my leg.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Just moments ago near the finish line of the Boston Marathon --

ABBOTT: I remember hearing about it and thinking how could this happen and just racing there.

HARLOW: 144 injured, three fatalities, 17 critical condition at this hour.

ABBOTT: Quickly the thought comes to your mind about the victims and who are these people.

HARLOW: One of them who has really stood out that we've spent a lot of time with is Heather Abbott. She lost part of her left leg in the bombing. And not only is she walking again, she is running again.

She wanted to feel like herself again so much, she wanted to walk again in high, four-inch stiletto heels. So she got a prosthetic that has allowed her to do that.

She said this is my new life and I'm for damn sure going to make the most of it.

HARLOW: Just getting through the horror of what happened to you and become your full self again I think is where most people would stop. You have taken it so much farther, challenging the status quo, battling the insurance companies.

ABBOTT: Most insurance companies don't cover it because it looks real. And it was an opportunity for me to bring attention to this issue of how to make insurance companies understand why coverage is needed for devices that aren't just for walking.


HARLOW: So we're in Chicago, and I have been looking forward to this day for a really long time.

We are heading to surprise an incredibly sweet little eight-year-old boy named Jude. When Jude was just three years old, there was a tragic accident while he was at home, and he lost both of his legs.

It just hits you right in the gut. And it is because of Heather and the Heather Abbott Foundation that we're going to see Jude like he is today.

He and his family have no idea what is about to happen.

The Chicago Fire, which is the professional soccer team here in Chicago, they're going above and beyond for Jude and his family.

Go find your name, guys.

They're going to surprise the kids with their own jerseys, stuffed animals for the little ones, their names on the Jumbotron. And Heather actually flew in to surprise Jude and his family. She hasn't seen them in three years.

ABBOTT: You look great. How do you like your new legs?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jude, you're an inspiration. This is for you.

HARLOW: They're even going to sign Jude and his siblings to a one-day contract with the team to make it official.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I also want to recognize a very special person, Heather Abbott, who is unbelievable. You are a Champion for Change.

HARLOW: This is totally Heather. This is who she is.

GREG HILL, JUDE'S FATHER: That wouldn't be possible without her help.

He is a double amputee that doesn't have feet, but that doesn't identify him. That doesn't detract from his character.

HARLOW: You are few of the lucky ones who because of Heather and her foundation could have this.

JENNIFER HILL, JUDE'S MOTHER: Getting the right kind of feet to keep him running and active changed not just his life but all of us.

HARLOW: The legs brought back not just the ability to run, but his heart, his joy, his spirit.

Okay, world of high heels. You can rock four-inch heels.

ABBOTT: I can.

HARLOW: I'm very impressed. Do you like some of these?

It's not just about functionality, but it's about feeling like your full self, right?

ABBOTT: Yes, it makes a big difference. People don't typically know I'm an amputee when I'm walking around in my high heels.

HARLOW: I will never forget the first day that I met her years ago after the Boston bombing, someone who has fought persistently and who is now a champion for others. She's just this ultimate woman. I don't know how else to say it other than Heather Abbott Sparkles.


GUPTA: Now, still ahead, Mattie Stepanek, this young man had a frail body, a strong mind and an outsized impact on my buddy, Chris Cuomo, who is going to tell you Mattie's story and also why his message is still so important and relevant today.


[20:30:15] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE. Here's a question, how much impact do you think a young child can have on the whole world? Chris Cuomo found out when he first met Mattie Stepanek back in 2001. A rare neurological disease crippled Mattie's body, but his powerful insights, his heart songs, as he called them, struck a chord with millions of people.


MATTIE JOSEPH THADDEUS STEPANEK, AMERICAN POET: If we choose to make peace a reality and spread it throughout the world and get involved, we will have peace.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Never met anybody like Mattie Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek. We were reeling after 9/11. We were desperate for wisdom. And then there was this kid, a kid in a wheelchair with a rare disease, a disease that claimed his three older siblings. And he is deep and he is dying and he caught fire with a message that we all needed.

I was at ABC News at the time and we couldn't get enough Mattie. Where does all this wisdom come from, Mattie, you're an 11-year-old kid?

M. STEPANEK: From inside of me. It's my heart song.

Thank you all for coming tonight.

CUOMO: Mattie poured his heart songs, as he called them, into five books of poetry and peace essays selling millions of copies. His uplifting spirit attracted a worldwide following including fellow poet and president, Jimmy Carter. He joined us on the set at ABC for a chance to meet the boy poet.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of all the people I've met in my life, he was the most remarkable human being that I think that has lived in my lifetime.

CUOMO: I broke a very important rule as a journalist. I let Mattie in. I couldn't help it. I loved that kid. And when he was finally gone, I could not handle it.

M. STEPANEK: I need a hope, a new hope, a hope that reaches for the stars.

CUOMO: Hello. How are you?

JENI STEPANEK, MOTHER OF MATTIE STEPANEK: I'm good. Thank you. I've missed you. CUOMO: It has been 15 years. Mattie's mom jenny is battling the same rare disease that claimed her kids. Her days are devoted to her role as chief peace officer of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation.

Nobody has ever affected me the way your son did.

J. STEPANEK: When he said God places messages in my heart, I never didn't believe him, but I didn't understand, nor did I understand the impact, the ripple effect that it was having on people in the world.

CUOMO: How important is it to you, to have your message get out?

M. STEPANEK: I think it's very important so that we can stop fighting and talk. Our war on terrorism should be one with words, not with bombs.

[20:35:11] J. STEPANEK: On September 11th, Mattie watched the events unfold and he said, "I don't know how to pray. I don't know what to do." And I said, "Just start speaking." And he spoke what became the poem for our world.

M. STEPANEK: In so many ways, we are the same. Our differences are unique treasures. We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts.

J. STEPANEK: And it became an international passage for peace. It's part prayer, part poem, part plea.

CUOMO: So it started with a poem.


CUOMO: It became a book.


CUOMO: And now, it is a platform.


CUOMO: The platform is the just peace summit, a global team leaders mentorship program inspired by Mattie and organized by the We Are Family Foundation.

NANCY HUNT, PRESIDENT, WE ARE FAMILY FOUNDATION: I said to his mom, "What if we find young people, like Mattie, teenagers, between 13 and 19 years old who literally are making the world a more peaceful place.

CUOMO: How many kids have you put out there now?

J. STEPANEK: Three hundred and thirty-two global teen leaders.

CUOMO: We gathered these teens in a room. Like Mattie, they had a lot to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message that I really take away most from Mattie and what he embodied was the idea that peace comes just as much in the form of a crippled young boy as it does in a world leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He spoke to us about the reality of what it feels like to be alive, and he didn't let his disease limit that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mattie said unity is strength. We may have differing opinions, but that unity, to be able to have that positive discourse is so important.

CUOMO: Young lady, to the people at home, your decision to come here and to be about this, what did it mean for them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that I am here because I am a change maker, because we believe that we are the change that the world needs. So that's why I'm crying. Because --

CUOMO: These kids, this would have never happened without you and without him.

J. STEPANEK: It empowers me and gives my purpose amplification. I'm living with this sense of urgency. I want to develop sustainability for Mattie's Foundation so that if my stopwatch went done, that Mattie's Foundation survives.

CARTER: I think everybody that knows about him have been inspired to look at themselves and say, I make the decision, but what kind of person I'm going to be? I shape my own character, and we used Mattie as an inspirational example of what each one of us can do to live a better life.

J. STEPANEK: He's now been gone longer than he was here, which for me as a mom is very, very difficult. What a beautiful gift to look out in the world and see that what he left for us, his legacy is continuing to grow. I want this message to be reaching billions of people.

M. STEPANEK: And if I could offer our world a wish, it would be a spirit of peace so that we can be together.


GUPTA: I love seeing baby face Chris Cuomo. That was a real treat.

Truth is -- look, today, Mattie's voice lives on with a call for peace. And it's important because there are other dangerous voices out there calling for violence.

In London, some young Muslims have heard that call to join ISIS or other extremist groups.

Hanif Qadir was once one of them. He went to Pakistan to join Al- Qaeda, but the violence turned him off.

Jim Sciutto first met Qadir 10 years ago. The former extremist was then leading the Active Change Foundation to guide young Muslims away from terrorism. Jim recently checked in on his old friend and found that he's now helping young people get out of Jihadi networks with his I-want-out camping.

Some of the most harrowing moments of my CNN career have played out on a battlefield. War reporting can be a dangerous business.

Our friend Anderson Cooper knows that as well. We were embedded in Afghanistan together in 2009 and we got to know photographer, Tim Hetherington.

Two years later in Libya, while on assignment, a piece of shrapnel from an explosion tore through Tim's femoral artery and he bled to death.

Anderson recently met up with Sebastian Junger. He's another friend of Tim's who thinks other journalists could have saved the photographer, if only they have had the proper training.

So Junger set up an organization called RISC, Reporters Instructed IN Saving Colleagues. It teaches correspondents how to survive and how to save each other in warzones.

Of course, there are places right here in the United States that can feel like warzones. And here as well, people rise up and they lean in.

One of those people is leaving her legacy with a local neighborhood kids in Chicago and she also left a mark on my friend, Kate Bolduan. That's next.


[20:40:52] GUPTA: The south side of Chicago can be a tough place to live. High crime, low hope.

Almost 10 years ago, Kate Bolduan met a local woman there who decided to take a few neighborhood kids under her wing.

Well, since then, Diane Latiker, has given guidance and direction to thousands of children. And Kate recently reconnected with her to recount the decade of success, joy, and some heartbreak.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: When I first met Diane, the Supreme Court was about to hear a case, landmark case having to do with Chicago's handgun ban.

DIANE LATIKER, FOUNDER, KIDS OFF THE BLOCK: If you would stay here two days, you realize our young people were all looking backwards at every car because of drive-bys.

BOLDUAN: When Diane Latiker opened up her own home to start the non- profit Kids Off the Block, she was fighting to stem the tide of gang activity in her neighborhood. And I came here to Chicago to talk to some of the people who are most affected by gun violence. I know how much my life has changed in the almost 10 years since we last met. I'm interested to see what's changed for Diane.

Oh, there she is.

How are you?

[20:45:01] LATIKER: I'm fine.

BOLDUAN: I mean, you haven't aged a day.

LATIKER: So good to see you.

BOLDUAN: It's so good to see you.

LATIKER: I'm surprised that you're able to remember me.

BOLDUAN: Are you kidding? As I was saying, you leave a mark.

LATIKER: You want to go in?

BOLDUAN: I'd love to.

Diane, Diane, Diane, Diane. Tell me again, why did you first open your doors?

LATIKER: I realized that they were failing in school and needed help. The gangs were trying to recruit the boys and stuff. And I'm like, me, what am I going to do? You know.

BOLDUAN: And what do you do?

LATIKER: What do I do? But I sold the T.V. and bought some computers and started helping with homework. It's about a program like tutoring and mentoring, conventional stuff, but it's not about a program. I want to know each kid.

BOLDUAN: Have there been moments when you thought, that's it? I can't --

LATIKER: Every day -- every day, I will wake up, I quit. I'm not doing this, and then somebody would call me, a kid or a young person walked in the door. And said this door wasn't open, I'd be dead in jail.

BOLDUAN: Since 2003, thousands of kids have walked through this front door. Including Tre Orr --

LATIKER: Hey, Tre.

BOLDUAN: -- who has been getting this very same hug for almost that long.

What has she meant to you? TREVIANCE ORR, GRAPHIC DESIGNER: A mother figure, definitely. Heart of gold, man.

BOLDUAN: What are you doing these days?

ORR: I graphic design.

BOLDUAN: Went to college?

ORR: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Got a job?

ORR: Yes.

BOLDUAN: You can see the pride on Diane's face, but that disappears quickly when we drive through the neighborhood.

LATIKER: This is where four shootings happened in four days last week. And I knew the young people, who did it and the young people who were shot.

BOLDUAN: Oh, my God.

LATIKER: Friday, one of the -- there's Tyrese. His brother was just killed. He was in my program.

BOLDUAN: And I can see how another kid that age could so easily think, I've got no future.

LATIKER: That's what they think. No hope. I mean, can you blame them?

BOLDUAN: Returning to the memorial Diane started, it does feel impossible to blame them. Each brick represents a young life lost to gun violence.

How many are in there now?

LATIKER: Two-hundred and one.

BOLDUAN: So there are 201 when I came.

LATIKER: It's almost 800 now.

BOLDUAN: How many are here now? Almost 800?

LATIKER: Seven something.

BOLDUAN: I never imagined it would be this big. I know that's so naive to think.

LATIKER: I didn't either.

BOLDUAN: That makes me sad. Sorry.

Diane isn't alone in her fight to save this community.

DOMINIQUE DAILY, VOLUNTEER, KIDS OF THE BLOCK: I'm from Roseland. I have -- want to get my - you know, my bachelor's degree. I have went on and get my master's degree, and I am working right inside the community that I'm coming from.

BOLDUAN: What is Diane's influence been on your life do you think on Dominique?

DAILY: She have impacted my life tremendously. She has been a person to go to, a mentor. The most supportive person you could ever be around and be with.

BOLDUAN: You're in a doctoral program right now.


BOLDUAN: How long have you been volunteering with Diane with Kids Off the Block?

BRYSON: It will be nine years in September.

DAILY: Eleven years. I started in 2008.

BOLDUAN: What are you teaching them?

BRYSON: Making up songs about long division, doing crazy dances. Anything to get them involved, relating science to everything.

BOLDUAN: And soon, they'll have a lot more room to help a lot more kids.

LATIKER: First, it was a liquor store and then it was a restaurant. This is going to be the computer lab.

BOLDUAN: Diane is now turning this empty building next door to her home into a technology and entrepreneurial center.

LATIKER: I'm hoping it's open by when school starts in September.

BOLDUAN: This is the future.

LATIKER: Future. This is the future. This is it.

BOLDUAN: So, what does the future look like?

LATIKER: The future looks like young people thriving, getting new skills and coming back with success stories. Oh, my God, I could see the possibilities in here.

BOLDUAN: Got it all figured out. Now, we just got to swing some hammers.

GUPTA: Sometimes hope really is one of the greatest antidotes. Now, another community center. This one in Far Rockaway, New York. It was almost destroyed by superstorm sandy in 2012. St. John Baptist Church has provided daycare, clothing, other basics for hundreds of its parishioners. The storm swamped the church and its ability to care for its members.

But then, Erin Burnett reported on the congregation, and guess what, donations poured in.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The difference between 2012 and today is striking.

I remember walking in here and sort of gasping because of how awful it looked.

PASTOR J.D. WILLIAMS, ST. JOHN BAPTIST CHURCH: And now we come here, this church has now been resurrected from the ashes and there's life here.


[20:50:00] GUPTA: Last year, "CNN TONIGHT" anchor, Don Lemon, profiled Oliver Scholars. Don really loves this organization. It's one that gives students from underserved communities a shot at elite universities. This year, he caught up with a recent Oliver Scholars alone [inaudible] she went to Middlebury College in Vermont and she's finding out and getting into the school is only the first part of the challenge.

She's still getting guidance from Oliver Scholars and from Don himself.

Next up, the unbelievable story of my champion for change, Kevin Hines. He did the unthinkable. And he lived to tell about it. It changed the way that I think about mental illness and I'm pretty sure it's going to change the way you think about it as well.


GUPTA: The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the world's most famous and beautiful landmarks but it's also infamous for being a suicide hot spot.

My champion, Kevin Hines, is fighting to fix that.


GUPTA: Oh, my brother. This is amazing. The thing that you've been fighting for, for nearly 20 years. There it is. I know -- I know this is emotional, but this is -- this is in a large part because of you, man.

[20:55:01] I think we tend to be very reductionist when we cover stories. It's very binary. Here's what happened. Here's the outcome. I think what Kevin Hines and this story did for me was make me realize that the shades of gray in between stories aren't things that you should just dismiss.

GUPTA (voce-over): No detail is too small, especially with a story like the one I'm about to tell you.

On September 25th, 2000, 19-year-old Kevin Hines walked to the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge and jumped.

KEVIN HINES, SUICIDE SURVIVOR: So, you know, I'm falling head first and I immediately recognize if I hit head first, I will die. I hit the water and the impact reverberated through my legs and it just shattered my T12, L1, and L2. When you hit from that height of that speed, it's like hitting a solid brick wall.

GUPTA: What did you -- what was going through your mind?

HINES: The very millisecond my hands left the rail and my legs cleared it, instant regret. Instantaneous regret.

I just wish I could go back in time.

GUPTA: Kevin and I first met back in 2003. His was one of the first stories I reported at CNN.

GUPTA: Why did you come here? Why the Golden Gate Bridge?

HINES: I was under the impression that it was the easiest way to die.

GUPTA: Over the last two decades, the suicide rate in the United States has gone up 33 percent. That makes it the number two cause of death in this country for people age 10 to 34 and over that same time period, 537 people have died after jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kevin Hines has spent the last 16 years trying to change those tragic numbers. His singular goal, to get a net placed on this beautiful bridge. A barrier to stop someone from dying. Someone like him.

HINES: What are the aesthetics compared to one human life? What if that was your mom or dad?

GUPTA: This is the place where you jumped.

HINES: Yes. This is the place where I lived.

GUPTA: I love that.

What surprised me and still surprised then, still surprises me now is the story that Kevin tells about the day that he jumped off the golden gate bridge. He made this pact with himself which was that if anybody basically is kind to me, if anybody looks at me, and says what's wrong? Can I help you? Wants to be compassionate in some way, anybody had done that for him, he wouldn't have jumped. That stuck with me.

And I think in -- I think in some ways it is influenced and directed a lot of the other stories that I do. It's never about a single individual. It's always about the circle of individuals, the ecosystem of society as a whole.

GUPTA: In some ways, you look like a totally different person. I mean, first of all, just physically, I mean, both of us -- I mean, in some ways, I think look better now.

I think Kevin first got me thinking act this idea that if someone drops , all of a sudden, in front of you from a cardiac arrest, most people would have some idea of what to do, call 911, start pushing on the chest. But if someone is clearly in trouble from mental illness, somebody who may be clearly suicidal, not only do we not often not know what to do, we often turn the other way.

HINES: Today is our gift.

GUPTA: Kevin Hines won't admit this, but he has probably saved many, many lives. People who thought nobody cared and then Kevin Hines shows up and says I love you. I care about you. I understand the pain that you're feeling and there's something that we can do about it.

HINES: Let's go check this out together.

GUPTA: Let's do it.

And today, I get to show him that his story, his fight has meant something, that net is finally going up.

HINES: That's the net. That's it. It's going up on the Golden Gate as of 2021. Not one more death by someone's hands off the Golden Gate Bridge. This is one of the most special days of my life.


GUPTA: Kevin Hines, a person who truly embodies what it means to be a champion for change.

Remember, don't turn away if you see someone who needs a kind word or a friendly face. Lean in, reach out. You could transform, even save someone's life.

I got to tell you it's been so inspiring to revisit these incredible individual behind these powerful stories.

Thank you so much for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Good night.