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CNN Special Reports
2019 CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 08, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CABRERA: CNN Hero of the Year, "CNN HEROES, AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE" is next.
BROOKLYN PRINCE, ACTRESS: Good evening. I'm Brooklyn Prince. I have achieved many great things in my life. But nothing tops this moment because I get to say these three words. Here we go. This is CNN.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: From the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, this is the 13th Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.
Please welcome your hosts for the evening, Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.
KELLY RIPA, CO-HOST: Thank you. It's so nice.
ANDERSON COOPER, CO-HOST: Thank you all for being here. Welcome to CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute. We are coming to you live from the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum and Natural history here in New York. And we want to welcome all of you who are watching around the world.
Tonight we're going to see just how much good there really is in this world. People you're going to meet, people who are solving problems, who are doing extraordinary things in their communities.
RIPA: That's right. For the next two hours, we are all about decency, goodwill and lifting people up. I remember watching this show for the very first time back in 2007 with my family. We all sobbed sitting on the sofa and I sent you a text that you were onto something really special.
COOPER: Yes. When you sob it makes me deeply uncomfortable.
COOPER: I'm a wasp. We were raised to push all emotions deep down inside.
RIPA: Yes. I know.
COOPER: It doesn't work. RIPA: I know.
COOPER: I love that you do this with me every year, though. Thank you.
RIPA: And I love you.
COOPER: I'm deeply uncomfortable.
RIPA: Deeply. I love you, too.
COOPER: Deeply uncomfortable. Thank you.
RIPA: Deeply I love you so much.
COOPER: OK. Right.
RIPA: The heroes we're going to meet tonight are thoughtful. They are inventive. They help sick kids, they support women and children who are struggling. They protect our oceans and so much more. They even rescue donkeys. We have donkeys, people. Donkeys, people, people.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Donkeys are -- you know with us.
RIPA: Donkeys are amazing.
COOPER: Donkeys, yes.
RIPA: We want --
COOPER: I recently met -- yes. A friend of ours has two donkeys and they're lovely. Yes.
RIPA: We do. We have friends that have donkeys.
RIPA: And they are lovely people.
COOPER: Yes. And they're watching tonight. So hi to Hamilton and his donkeys.
RIPA: And they're watching at home. Yes.
COOPER: CNN has given each of our Top 10 Heroes a global platform to share their work. They've also given each of our heroes $10,000 to continue their work. And later tonight one of the honorees will be named the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year and they'll receive another $100,000. RIPA: So good.
RIPA: And we are so grateful to all of the artists and entertainers who are giving their time to help us honor their work tonight, so welcome all of you to the CNN Heroes family.
COOPER: All right. So let's get started.
RIPA: All right. I am ready to wreck my face. Do it.
COOPER: What does that mean?
RIPA: Sobbing. I'm going to wreck my face.
COOPER: Oh, yes, OK. Yes.
RIPA: When I sob, I make it uncomfortable.
COOPER: Yes. I know. I know. It's uncomfortable. All right.
RIPA: And I love you so much.
COOPER: OK, yes. All right. Fine.
COOPER: Last year was California's deadliest and most destructive fire season on record. We all saw the images. No fire causes as much damage as the Paradise Campfire. 85 people were killed on that fire. Nearly 14,000 homes were destroyed leaving more than 50,000 people homeless. And today a year later the majority of those people, they are still displaced.
RIPA: Here to share how our hero is helping people rebuild is Lymphatic Education and Research Network's spokesperson and Academy Award-winning actress from the new Warner Brothers film "Richard Jewel," and the film's leading man and a proud supporter of the Atlanta Women's Foundation, Kathy Bates and Paul Walter Hauser.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
KATHY BATES, CNN HERO PRESENTER: On November night, the nation watched as the fires ravaged this beautiful California town. Woody Faircloth sat in his home in Denver, Colorado. And with the horror unfolding on his TV he heard that whisper. Do something. He went online and saw that people were desperate for a place to stay. Woody created a GoFundMe account to purchase an RV. And by Thanksgiving he put together enough money and bought one. And he drove it with his 6- year-old daughter Luna nearly 1200 miles to Paradise.
[20:05:09] PAUL WALTER HAUSER, CNN HERO PRESENTER: And when they arrived they saw scorched everything. And again Woody heard that whisper. Do more. So he started RV for Campfire Family, which takes in donations and buys RVs and fixes up used ones. To date he's given 75 free mobile homes to people in California.
So that they can have a place, a place for them that is close to the charred ruins of the town they still proudly call home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The master bedroom was back there with the bathroom, and then my daughter's bedroom.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This fire is destroying everything in its path.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kitchen right here. Living room over there.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It is just complete devastation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It wasn't very big but it was home. The fire burned everything I own. I have no baby pictures. I have no pictures of my mother. It's just like in one day your whole life changes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heavenly father, please help us.
WOODY FAIRCLOTH, 2019 CNN TOP 10 HERO: It was an apocalyptic scene. Everyone was in shock. People want to help. They just don't know how to.
Yes, we just have a few finishing touches and we'll be good to go.
And I think we tapped in to a way that people could help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been eight months since I have had my own home. How do you organize a disaster. I have been living in my car for about a month.
FAIRCLOTH: So, we just picked up this RV. Now we're going to drive it up to the grandmother and we're super-excited to get her her new home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm about to jump out of my shoes. I can't wait. Oh, my god. Wow.
FAIRCLOTH: How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey. Good. Oh, my god. Thank you.
FAIRCLOTH: You're welcome. You have a place to call your own now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. This will be my lifesaver. How privy. I can fold my clothes and put them away. And, you know, those little things. Somebody who had no idea my life even existed and they're going to give me my home. It's really cool.
FAIRCLOTH: When you can change the channel it's easy to avoid those emotions. But when you're staring face to face with someone that human connection is so powerful. Shelter is such a basic need to provide that. That's the compensation for me. That's why I continue to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BATES: Ladies and gentlemen, please join us in honoring CNN Hero, Woody Faircloth.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
FAIRCLOTH: Thank you. Thank you so much. Luna and I have learned on our journey that way too many people fall through the cracks of traditional relief organizations. Shelter is the most basic human need. So that's what we provide. We have helped firefighters, first responders, veterans, college professors, nurses, children with special needs, families just like yours and mine. We still have over 150 families on our waiting list.
And I want to say that Campfire survivors, your resilience inspires. You have not been forgotten.
Please join us, help us help them. Thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Now tonight not only are we celebrating our Top 10 Heroes, but we'll also be honoring four young people who show us that age is never a factor when it comes to making the world a better place. We call them Young Wonders.
RIPA: Here to introduce us is our first, a proud supporter of Jet Foundation which works with young people to strengthen their mental health, and the star of "Stranger Things," Caleb McLaughlin.
CALEB MCLAUGHLIN, PRESENTER: There is nothing more powerful than these two words together. We and can. That's why 15-year-old Grace Callwood put them in her organization's name. The We Can Serve Movement. While she was fighting cancer she got an idea to bring happiness to kids in tough situations. She delivers fun baskets to them in the hospital, started a boutique to give kids in foster care a free shopping experience, and launched a summer camp for those experiencing homelessness.
Almost 20,000 have benefitted from Grace and her work shows all of us that when we put we and can together we can change a young person's life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRACE CALLWOOD, WECANSERVE.ORG: Whenever I think of happiness I think of smiling or laughter, or even tears of joy. I definitely like making other people happy. Knowing I have a positive effect on others.
I was 7 years old when I was diagnosed with cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was the longest three and a half years I have ever faced. She absolutely lost a normal childhood.
CALLWOOD: What I learned during the journey was that you can make your own happiness even in a bad situation. And there's always an opportunity to bring happiness to other people. The main projects we have with hospitals are "Beach in a Bucket," which we recently delivered to child hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a baseball.
CALLWOOD: We put everything that you need for a beach party in a sand bucket.
How are you feeling today?
I know it gets really hard and really tiring. You have your mom and your team. I definitely want to encourage you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my daddy.
CALLWOOD: Yes. And your dad. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my dog.
CALLWOOD: Exactly. So you've got to keep fighting for all of them and for yourself.
It feels amazing to know that I was able to bring happiness to a kid. Going through a similar thing as I did.
I created Camp Happy in 2015 when I was 10 years old for a local shelter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The children here have experienced enough significant amount of trauma.
CALLWOOD: Since I can't end homelessness, I at least want to bring joy to them in the midst of their sad situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to be an astronaut so I can actually discover those planets myself.
CALLWOOD: I do feel like the happiness fairy. Knowing that I have this idea and now it's helping thousands of kids every year.
Is this for me?
If you try hard enough and if you have the right attitude, you can find happiness. There's always a way to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
RIPA: I've got to tell you something. Anderson and I just looked at each other and said that you created a camp at the age of 10 years old and we could not find our way up the stairs without somebody helping us. And you've reached a special personal milestone this year. Can you tell us about it?
CALLWOOD: Yes. After being five years in remission on February 7th of this year I was declared cancer free.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: That's awesome. To learn more about Grace's story and all our Young Wonders, please go to CNNheroes.com. That's amazing.
ANNOUNCER: Please welcome your host, Jon Bon Jovi, (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: We're back -- we're back with CNN Heroes. We're uncomfortably close right now.
RIPA: They told us to stand uncomfortably close and I am really happy to oblige.
COOPER: Yes. Throughout the night as you meet our Top 10 Heroes, go to CNNheroes.com and click on the donate buttons. We're grateful to the GoFundMe charity is working with all of them tonight.
RIPA: You know, we are here in this Hall of Ocean Life under this gorgeous foam and fiberglass whale. But I'm not sure if you saw the story about the whale that died with a 220-pound litter ball inside of it. It was a terrible story.
COOPER: It's like fishing lines inside. Yes.
RIPA: Yes. It was really awful. And so we all have to do our parts. Governments, corporations, all of us to protect these beautiful species. Eight million tons of plastic floats in our oceans. It kills more than one million sea boards, 100,000 mammals and countless fish each year.
COOPER: Our next hero decided to do something about it. And to tell us his incredible story is the actor, director, producer who sits on board of the Innocence Project and Americares, Tony Goldwyn.
TONY GOLDWYN, 2019 CNN HERO PRESENTER: We all know someone who is dedicated. And it is a humbling experience to watch them give their heart, their soul and so much more to a cause greater than themselves. In 2015, Afroz Shah returned to his childhood home in Mumbai, India. He had moved away to become a lawyer and was excited to see his favorite beach. He walked to the edge expecting to see beauty and saw garbage. Piled high and five feet deep.
So he got a bucket, some gloves and he started to clean it with his hands. Weekend after weekend, bucket after bucket, he worked until it was a beautiful stretch of sand again. Since that fateful day, he has created a movement that inspired 200,000 people to remove 60 million pounds of garbage from beaches in water ways. He did all of this with his hands and with a dedication to this planet that knows no bound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AFROZ SHAH, 2019 CNN HERO: Ocean is actually for me a love affair. It's life as well to billions of people on this planet. And when you see plastic in the ocean, you get troubled.
I moved here in March 2015 and the whole beach was like a carpet of plastic. For the first time in my life I didn't want to be near the water because the garbage was like five and a half feet. The ocean is telling us, take it, take it away. Marine species have no choice at all. We're attacking their habitats, their food. Finally they die.
Plastic in ocean is a killer. This problem of pollution is created by us. And with this in my mind I started to clean the beach. For me it was really a personal journey. Then I told myself, why not take this personal journey to others. We love it when you're here. People were skeptical initially but it caught on fast. I think this is the best way of picking up garbage. No need to go to the gym.
And when you have a complicated problem, sometimes solutions are simple. If this huge ocean is in a problem we have to rise up in huge numbers. Every Saturday and Sunday I do it. It has been a very long and arduous journey but we are loving it. Let's have fun on the beach. So in October 2018, it was absolutely clean. You take pleasure that oh my, it's set right. It's clean.
But just not about cleaning beaches, we go to coastal communities. You see so much plastic on my beach? This is one of the source. So what do we now? Training up people for handling plastic. It's a basic human conversation.
We all want to do it actually. Promise? Promise. Then we collect it and give it back to recycling centers. This is a mindset change. We are a smart species. We learn. But we must be in for the long haul. See, I always tell people go on a date with ocean. Ocean will never ditch you. I'm on a date with ocean for life, that's for sure.
This world talks too much. I think we must talk less and do actually more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
GOLDWYN: Please join me in honoring CNN Hero, Afroz Shah.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
SHAH: Good evening, New York. Good evening, CNN. Yes. Should I do the teleprompting talking or should I speak from the heart?
SHAH: The producers must be aghast. But I feel about ocean as Anderson and Kelly are feeling on the stage now. Their warm little love. But to tell you the fact, this award is actually drawing a very delicate bridge between us as human and as marine species existing on this planet. This award to my mind is a journey which all of us will have to take to exist peacefully with other species.
This award to my mind is standing against the confusion that we will mess up our planet and others will clear the mess. This award stands for the imperative that our rights are not on a higher pedestal than the rights of the other species.
I must thank CNN for bestowing this honor on me. I hope this will (INAUDIBLE) ahead feels safer and sound because whatever plastic we use lands up in the bellies of these whales and sharks and turtles because of the life of convenience we have chosen.
Thank you, CNN. God bless you all. Thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Amazing. Each year more than three million kids are admitted to a hospital. Many fighting cancer and other diseases.
RIPA: Here to share the story of how a hero from Michigan is making sure that they can all still hold onto part of their childhood, is part of the resistance in "Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker," Kelly Marie Tran.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
KELLY MARIE TRAN, 2019 CNN HERO PRESENTER: When I say the word gamer most people go to the stereotype. They think unemployed, pajamas, parents' basement. Well, meet Zach Wigal who is proving all of that to be wrong. When he was in high school, he caught mono and playing games made him feel better. When he returned to school, he wanted to host a gaming tournament to bring people together but the police shut it down.
They called it a hazard to the public safety of the community. Zach took that insult and created Gamers Outreach which brings games to children in more than 150 hospitals across America and Canada. Games that put smiles on kids' faces. Kids who are in the fight of their lives. Kids in pain. Kids deserving this joy. More than 400,000 are playing and connecting because rebel Zach took his passion and turned it into the cause of his life. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZACH WIGAL, 2019 CNN TOP 10 HERO: We have 300 kids signed up for the tournament. Our event ended up getting shut down by a police officer who believed that games were in his words corrupting the minds of America's youth. You know, most high school kids will look for any excuse to kind of like stick it to the man, so to speak.
There are all these negative stereotypes around games and the gaming community. I thought we could illustrate the positive that can happen when gamers get together.
Once we started getting involved with our local children's hospital, we want to create sort of a portable video game kiosk that the healthcare staff can use to make sure games were easy to move around. We started calling these things go carts.
This is going to go right behind your head.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's cool. Having that distraction just makes it so much better. Like you might forget that you even like are sick most of the time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can press B and it does like a secret move or something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I use it to smash the big laser just there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You did.
WIGAL: We started recruiting video game enthusiasts to actually come into the hospital environment. So they'll play games with kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have seen anxiety go down. Prescription painkillers are being used less.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We defeated him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even doctors are sometimes now prescribing the video game time as part of the patient's treatment.
Got it. Team work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're intimidated by many kinds of bandages they have or any poles that might be attached to them. They forget about that and they just focus on the game.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that was sweet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, what's up.
WIGAL: Games can be sort of a gateway to socialize with friend, to help people regain motor skills, or sort of get up and moving around again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has made such a difference. The pain was no longer the primary focus. It was just enjoying himself. Being a kid.
WIGAL: That's awesome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it was just -- as a mom this is such a beautiful thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To people who think that games are just games, they're so much more than that. You don't have to talk about me being sick. We can play the game because that's way more cool.
WIGAL: So I feel more like a rebel than a do-gooder. Maybe that's part of the story. There is no sort of perfect ideal, you know, person to be doing that. So I think any time you can give back just refreshing for your soul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRAN: Please join me in honoring CNN Hero, Zach Wigal.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
WIGAL: Thank you. Thank you. Last year I had the honor of meeting Grant Hopkins who you saw in this video. He was a full of energy and a big fan of like video games. I was saddened to learn Grant passed away a few days ago from cancer. He was a special guy and loved dearly by his family and friends.
Kids like Grant are the reason I'm so dedicated to this cause. In the midst of hard times, they deserve a chance to be themselves. It's my belief games are represent an opportunity for us to connect with each other through activity and story. The kids we're working with have few other outlets. But thankfully gamers are here to help.
I'd to dedicate this award to all the children and families and hospitals around the world and all the gamers making a difference in people's lives. You're my heroes. Thank you so much.
RIPA: Tonight we're also honoring some remarkable people who made headlines this year. People who gave so much and acted in the moment with incredible courage and decency. And we begin with the story of an unforgettable high school coach.
COOPER: On May 17th, a student walked into Park Rose High School in Portland, Oregon, carrying a loaded firearm. Suffering from a mental health crisis, he intended to use the gun to take his own life. But when he opened a classroom door, football and track coach Keanon Lowe was standing there. Coach Lowe looked at the student's face and eyes, and acted. First, he got control of the gun as others ran from the building. Then, he pulled the student out of the room and handed the gun off to another adult.
Initial report said Coach Lowe tackled the student. But surveillance footage shows something very different. He hugged and consoled the student before police officers arrived to take the teenager into custody. Coach Lowe did this because he believes that part of his job is to love and protect his kids. We honor him tonight.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Coach Keanon Lowe.
KELLY RIPA, ACTRESS: Wow.
ANNOUNCER: Later on CNN HEROES, Jon Bon Jovi, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale. And still to come, a special performance by Andy Grammer.
CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE is sponsored by GEICO. Proudly supporting the military and their families for over 75 years.
COOPER: Welcome back to CNN HEROES. Our next young wonder is from Northfield, New Jersey.
RIPA: Go Jersey! I thought for sure there would be silence. Very excited about that. So, to --
COOPER: Go Manhattan.
RIPA: All right.
COOPER: Doesn't have the same, yes.
RIPA: To introduce us to this inspiring Jersey boy, is another Jersey boy. His latest song, Unbroken, is part of the documentary to be of service which showcases the struggle veterans with PTSD face. All proceeds from the song benefit the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation.
Please welcome, a proud supporter of veterans and active duty military, a rock and roll hall of fame legend, a Grammy award-winner, the co-founder of the JBJ Soul Foundation, Jon Bon Jovi.
JON BON JOVI, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Thank you. When you haven't served in the military and decide to serve our veterans, you have to take on that mission with a purpose that instills pride in those who have worn the uniform. This is what my mom and my dad taught me, as they both served in the marines.
It's a powerful promise and one that Bradley Ferguson embraced at wise old age of 14. Many of us live in a community where there is an American Legion home. And on any given day, veterans come through the doors to share stories, have a meal and ask for help in tough times.
Bradley learned about his local hall from one of his teachers and got involved with Post Crashers. He has since worked to raise thousands of dollars in grant money, and joined his friends to grow food and provide meals. And his work with and for our veterans is a bond that will never be broken.
BRADLEY FERGUSON, YOUTH LEADER: The first time I walked into the American Legion Post, the whole place was just dark and dingy, kind of seemed like a dungeon. That really just made us want to make this place a great community center for everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first group of people that came, we had 70 people here. People seen this seventh-grader paid for the first time. You know, it was -- it was a great learning experience for everybody.
FERGUSON: We renovated the entire kitchen. We added brand new ceiling, new bathroom. Outside, we built a brand-new deck, added new fencing, added a bunch of picnic benches that we built. We decided to plant a victory garden in the back. We started off with nine beds. And now, it has about like 27 raised beds. We grow tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, like, we grow so much. It's crazy.
Everything we grow here goes back into the meals for the veterans. You're going to peel the onions and cut them.
We make full course meals for veterans that are in transitional housing. We have sat down dinners with them when they come over to the American Legion Post. And we were able to socialize with them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is so good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything you find a burger like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had everything on the menu.
FERGUSON: We donated about 1,500 full course meals to the veterans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're doing a great thing, man.
FERGUSON: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
FERGUSON: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wanted to be part of the solution. And he's inspired. Hundreds of students to serve.
FERGUSON: No matter how old you are, you can still create change. If people work together, then change will happen.
COOPER: And Bradley joins us now. Welcome. So amazing. You're a freshman at Harvard now. FERGUSON: Yes.
COOPER: I understand you're working with the homeless in Harvard, in Cambridge.
FERGUSON: Yes. So, I'm working with the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, where I'm on the dinner crew and street team. And I'm also running grants for them, just trying to help out like any way I can.
COOPER: And this is finals week for you, as well.
FERGUSON: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: What's your first final?
FERGUSON: In multi-variable calculus. I have it on a Friday, so --
COOPER: I don't even know what multi-variable calculus is, so --
FERGUSON: It's interesting.
COOPER: There's a lot more to Bradley's story and all our young wonders. You can check it out at cnnheroes.com right now. Bradley, thank you. Amazing.
RIPA: Did he say multi-variable calculus? In spite of all gains Detroit Michigan has made since the great recession, more than one- third of its residents and nearly half of its children live in poverty.
Our next hero spends her days trying to provide them with basic needs and a chance to get ahead. To tell her amazing story, please join me in welcoming two proud supporters of the 52nd Street Project, which mentor kids in New York in the theater arts, the Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress and the Emmy Award-winning and Tony-nominated actor, starring together in the play, Medea, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale.
ROSE BYRNE, EMMY AND GOLDEN GLOBE-NOMINATED ACTRESS: Twenty-three years ago, a nurse made a house call to care for a dying baby of an Iraqi refugee family. At their home, Najah Bazzy noticed four things in the house, a rug, a Styrofoam cooler, a propane camp grill and a white plastic laundry basket filled with clean towels and the baby.
BOBBY CANNAVALE, EMMY AWARD-WINNING ACTOR: At first, Najah thought this family was just moving in. But on her way out, she realized that this was all they had. Najah called her mother and gathered as many items as they could and brought them to the family. While the baby's life was brief, its legacy lives on. For years, Naja helped more families in poverty, operating out of her home and a minivan.
In 2004, she started Zaman International. And today, they have a 40,000 square foot building with rows of food, clothing and furniture. BYRNE: They've helped more than 250,000 women and children in crisis. Zaman is a Hebrew and Arabic word that means time and because she spent that time with that one family and baby, she has never stopped loving her neighbors in need.
NAJAH BAZZY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER, ZAMAN INTERNATIONAL: In my faith tradition, there's a beautiful saying, pray for your neighbor before yourself. We have a human responsibility to care for one another. My family has been in America, 125 plus years. My dad was in the army during the Korean War. I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood. This is where I learned to love my neighbor.
How are you?
Zaman is a humanitarian organization where people come together to help women and children living in extreme poverty. What we do here is provide food, clothing and shelter, and a whole lot of love. How's the food, guys? Welcome to Zaman's lunch. We are open to everybody. I could care less what your skin color is, your faith or culture. All that matters here is what do you need? We also provide vocational training skills.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When everything is even, it all cooks at the same time.
BAZZY: We allow them to see the best in themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom was really sick. I had no income coming in. I did not know what to do. The food and everything they had to offer, it helped me out a great deal. A friend of mine was taking sewing classes. So, I came and I got into the groove of it. I love making clothes. So, that's income. And Zaman helped me to attain my high school diploma.
I walked across the stage with cap and gown. Yes.
BAZZY: Oh, my God! I'm going to cry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The help that they give people --
Thank you so much for everything.
It comes from the heart.
BAZZY: Hi Mariam, my girl. People just need an opportunity. And they need hope. That's what we do best.
How's your apprenticeship going?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty good.
BAZZY: Are you learning a lot?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have.
BAZZY: Good. I believe in one human family. When we love one another and we care for one another, that is the world that I hope to see.
CANNAVALE: Please join us -- please join us in honoring CNN hero, Najah Bazzy.
BAZZY: Thank you. Thank you, everyone. I begin in the name of God. I have stood on many stages before, but none quite like this. There is a universe that exists within each of us. And we are at the peak of grace when we provide for essential human needs. When Zaman unlocks the shackles of poverty, mothers are able to realize the full human potential and create a dignified life for their children.
Leadership, it's a sacred trust. And it's a great responsibility. We must -- we must serve those who need us the most and restore hope for humanity. Congratulations to all of the heroes tonight. And to every Zamanitarian in the world. I wish to thank my family and all of you. Salam. Peace be upon you. Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up next, Judith Light honors a hero who helps children heal through the arts. And later, Andy Grammer.
CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE is proudly sponsored by Humana. Humana, more ways to care.
COOPER: Welcome back to CNN HEROES. As we know, the United States is in the throes of an opioid epidemic, one of the highest over dose rates in the country, is in New Mexico's Rio Arriba County. It is four times the national average and generation after generation of kids have struggled after losing parents and family members.
RIPA: Here to share our hero's story, please join me in welcoming two-time Emmy and three-time Tony Award-winning actress, the star of Amazon Studios' Transparent and Netflix's The Politician, and a proud supporter of Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS, the Elton John Aids Foundation, and the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, Judith Light.
JUDITH LIGHT, EMMY AND TONY AWARD-WINNING ACTRESS: Hello. He was a dancer in New York City in the late 1980s. He buried a partner, watched too many friends die, and then tested positive for HIV. Roger Montoya thought death was imminent. He went back home. He put away his dancing shoes and took out his paintbrush. He grew stronger and stronger with each brush stroke.
And he looked around and he saw too many children struggling and alone. So, he found an old casino in a village. He and his new partner, Sal, transformed it into Moving Arts Espanola. Five days a week, it hums and thrives with children who are immersed in the hope- filled healing power of art. Since 2008, more than 5,000 young people have received low-cost art classes, free meals, tutoring, mentoring because Roger is still here. And his love transforms their heart ache into a moment where a back flip, a line in a play, or a twirl on the dance floor can make everything seem possible.
ROGER MONTOYA, CO-FOUNDER, MOVING ARTS ESPANOLA: For me, art is about expression. It could be dance, could be music. Movement. There is a profound sense of healing, a centering that allows one to find focus and purpose. Art is medicine. Northern New Mexico is a wonderful place, but families have been shattered by cyclical poverty and the opioid crisis.
This is the drum, let's do drums. We've created Moving Arts so kids can come in and have this sense of hope. Just find the light. We believe that if kids can face a smorgasbord of opportunity, they're surely going to find some creative pathway to connect. That kind of joy is what will save them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Growing up with my parents who were both on drugs, people will tell me you're going to be worthless. I first met Roger when I was in elementary.
MONTOYA: One day, I said, hey, let's do a back flip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I was like, a what? I do what he says, and I landed it. I'm just so filled with excitement because I'm like wow, I didn't think I could do something like this. It just exploded this positive energy inside of me. Ever since, it's made me feel like I can do so much more with my body and so much more with my heart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up on the San Ildefonso Pueblo Reservation. It isn't very common in the Pueblo to pursue ballet. It just made me happy.
MONTOYA: She was able to find her lane, and then we just nourished her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been accepted to a professional ballet training program in Chicago. It's incredible.
MONTOYA: There's so much untapped potential. This is a sanctuary for these kids.
Bring your soul and your love to the stage. You can feel when they have that confidence. It's a little fire in there, and we just feed it every day even more.
That's what Moving Arts is about. It's a safe vessel of love.
LIGHT: Ladies and gentlemen, please join us in honoring CNN hero, Roger Montoya.
MONTOYA: Thank you so much. Gracias, CNN, for including me among those who heal the world. It's a profound honor, the highest of my life. And what a gift to return to New York City, 30 years later, to accept this recognition.
My life's challenges taught me that art is medicine, that art transforms. I have seen children move from trauma and constriction to trust. The recipe is simple, a vacant building becomes a place of nourishment, culture, and love. Untapped artists, they share their gifts and their wisdom. Children in need, they find inspiration and they create their own voices.
Please join me in sharing this award with my beloved and resilient community in New Mexico, Espanola New Mexico, it is the beautiful, beautiful place I call home. When we lift just one child, we all rise. We are one.
COOPER: Over the years, no organization has been a greater supporter of our efforts than Subaru, which has generally sponsored CNN HEROES since 2008. Please welcome Tom Doll, the president, chief executive officer of Subaru of America.
TOM DOLL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, SUBARU OF AMERICA: A great philosopher and observer of human nature once said, kindness in words, creates confidence. Kindness in thinking, creates profoundness. Kindness in giving, creates love. Each of our heroes here tonight have shown the profound impact their kindness can have on all of us.
Subaru strives to emulate the kindness of our heroes by investing in our Share the Love event. By the end of this year, we will have given over 170 million that we know creates kindness and love for others. Tonight, we are here not only to honor our heroes, but to help them continue their great work of delivering kindness to others. And that, my friends, takes money.
So, please join Subaru in donating to the top 10 CNN HEROES, and if you do, Subaru will match your donations dollar for dollar, up to a total of $500,000. Thank you. We at Subaru know firsthand that delivering kindness and giving creates love, so please share the love by contributing to our celebrated heroes here tonight. Donate now at cnnheroes.com. Thank you very much.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up, Julia Styles, and later, Storm Reed and Alfre Woodard. And you can support our top 10 honorees' work at cnnheroes.com.
KEILLY SANTOS, STUDENT, OCEAN DISCOVERY INSTITUTE: Everything starts with knowledge. This program has really taught me about the world outside of City Heights. The biggest investment that you can make is investing in the younger generations.
SHARA FISLER, CNN HERO 2016: Ocean Discovery Institute is best described as young lives transformed through science. Getting recognition from groups like CNN HEROES and Subaru helped us to finish our fundraising campaign and make this place a reality and bring kids through the door. We provide young people from the most underserved backgrounds, with the opportunity to have science experiences and mentoring from kindergarten through career.
SANTOS: City Heights is the most diverse community in all of San Diego. There's so much passion and love. I just grew up with people who cared about my education and I remember being like, wow, I can really be a scientist.
It's just beautiful to have nature as your classroom. You're taking what you're learning from a textbook and actually seeing in real life.
FISLER: Subaru is a leader in their dedication to environmental protection into causes like these. Students can see that science is something they can do and then a scientist is someone they can be.
SANTOS: Nobody has the opportunity in this community to really work with scientist and that work with professionals and do research for free and get this career experience.
FISLER: CNN HEROES shines a light to everyday people, trying to make the world a better place. And I'm just so thankful to Subaru's ongoing support of CNN HEROES.
SANTOS: Now that I'm in college, I'm like, wow, this program has really opened my mind and now, I'm like, what statement am I going to make? Whether it's science, whether it's research, I just want to give back and inspire others to follow their dreams.