Meet the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2017

13 Nov 2017 - By TW Staff

This post originally appeared on the Turner Blog.

Get your box of Kleenex ready. CNN’s annual celebration of everyday people who make the world a better place, CNN Heroes, is just over a month away.

What’s that? You know not of the CNN Heroes? We can help. Heroes is the CNN award show that celebrates everyday people changing the world. At least, that’s what CNN says. If these people are “everyday,” then a bunch of us at TurnerNow must be once-a-weekers by comparison.

Joining Anderson Cooper for the second year as co-host of “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” is Kelly Ripa. It airs Sunday, December 17th, at 8 p.m. ET live from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Anderson recently revealed the 2017 Top 10 CNN Heroes on “New Day.” Now, voters can select the CNN Hero of the Year by voting for the Top 10 CNN Hero who inspires them the most. Supporters can vote daily at by logging in via email or Facebook, as well as on Facebook Messenger by messaging VOTE to the CNN Heroes Facebook page. Viewers can vote up to 10x a day, per method, every day through Tuesday, December 12th, at midnight PT.

Each Top 10 CNN Hero will be awarded $10,000, and the CNN Hero of the Year will receive an additional $100,000. You read that right.

The 2017 Top 10 honorees are:

  • Stan Hays (Pleasant Hill, MO) Hays’ non-profit, Operation BBQ Relief, has responded to dozens of disasters, providing nearly 1.7 million hot, comforting meals to survivors and first responders.
  • Samir Lakhani (Pittsburgh, PA) Lakhani’s non-profit, Eco-Soap Bank, recycles discarded bars of soap from hotels in Cambodia, distributing them to people in need and creating jobs. The organization has helped more than 650,000 Cambodians.
  • Jennifer Maddox (Chicago, IL) Police officer Maddox created Future Ties, a non-profit afterschool and summer program located in the turbulent Parkway Gardens Homes in the South Side of Chicago. Today, her group provides a free safe haven for more than 100 children in grades K-5.
  • Rosie Mashale (Cape Town, South Africa) In Cape Town’s largest township, Mashale and her group, Baphumelele (‘We have progressed’), care for orphaned, abandoned and sick children – many of whom have lost parents to AIDS.
  • Andrew Manzi (Folly Beach, SC) Iraq War veteran Andy Manzi started Warrior Surf, a non-profit that offers six-week longboard surf camps and therapy sessions. Since 2015, the foundation has provided free services to 300 veterans and their families.
  • Leslie Morissette (Springvale, ME) Grahamtastic Connection, the non-profit Morissette started in 1998 after the loss of her son to cancer, has kept 1,000 seriously ill kids connected to their schools and friends by providing free robots, and other technology.
  • Mona Patel (San Antonio, TX) After her own struggles as an amputee, Patel started a non-profit, San Antonio Amputee Foundation, providing transformational support and resources to more than 1,100 amputees.
  • Khali Sweeney (Detroit, MI) Sweeney’s Detroit non-profit Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program, mentors around 100 high risk youth weekly. 98% of his student-athletes have gone on to college.
  • Aaron Valencia (Lancaster, CA) Valencia’s Lost Angels Children’s Project offers a free afterschool program with a focus on classic car restoration for at-risk youth.
  • Amy Wright (Wilmington, NC) At Bitty & Beau's Coffee, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, Wright's non-profit, ABLE to WORK USA, offers employment and community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Because Heroes and CNN are so amazing, there are many ways to watch. In addition to the TV airings, “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” will also stream live for subscribers on December 17th via CNNgo (at and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Samsung Smart TV and Android TV) and on the CNN mobile apps for iOS and Android.  “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” will also be  available on demand via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms and CNN mobile apps beginning December 18th.

CNN Heroes may be everyday to some people but they’re much more than that to us. Just be ready because when the first one is introduced, you’re going to need that Kleenex. Trust us.