CNN’s Heroes are back, and this year’s ten honorees included a diverse group of people — from an artist who launched a global campaign to advocate for vulnerable children, to a refugee boy’s mother and devoted translator, to a military veterans’ family helping others connect to their service. CNN’s Heroes aims to tell the stories of everyday heroes who fought hard to make the world a better place, and these ten individuals were brought together to demonstrate the hidden strength and heroic acts that can unify us all.
The honorees were selected from more than 600 finalists in the CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute series, which was highlighted in a special episode of CNN Tonight hosted by Anderson Cooper and CNN’s Gloria Borger.
The list of honorees from this year’s program includes:
Ershad Ali: An Afghan street artist, who transformed kids’ drawings into eye-catching political posters and one-off pieces to highlight issues in his country.
Amanda Armijo: A therapy dog for hundreds of children who have witnessed traumatic events and have been left with the after-effects of chronic injuries and developmental delays.
Vanessa Clemens: CNN’s Medial Makeover helped her family start the Upper West Comedy Club in New York, now known as the Spook Alley Comedy Club, where kids learn the comedic art of performing.
Lindsey Jones: The Bronx-based mother of two children has founded an organization called Beautiful Arms to provide different types of art therapy to the children in her home community of The Woodlawn section of New York City.
Baiyan Morris: She’s the founder of Bella’s Home, an organization that promotes education and health through sport and nutrition, in the impoverished neighborhood of Shawangunk, New York.
Dan Erikson: His hunger-strike protest led to victory for the Houlton Declaration, a universal human rights charter for children.
Kindergarten Boys: He’s a ten-year-old refugee who dreams of creating a better life in his homeland of South Sudan, and he aims to do it the hard way: By becoming a guitarist and winning the boy’s club in the local band competition.
Rashida Jones: She runs the international non-profit MUSE: Humanitarian Education Atrophy, which believes in the power of arts education to break cycles of poverty.
Chad Smith: He’s a father who encourages his son to emulate his hard work, inspiration and passion, encouraging him to find his “real love” and to work hard to make a difference.
Ernesto Ramirez and Manuel Ramirez: The founder and executive director of César Estrada Learning Center, a nonprofit organization that teaches underprivileged children how to read and write, in East New York, Brooklyn.
Hero: Stories Every Village Tells: Yolanda Alvarez-Perez is the executive director of the Villages of Utica, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting the local Latino community.
Each honoree was profiled by one of CNN’s top reporters and correspondents from around the globe, as well as by other CNN journalists. This year’s presentation concluded with a performance from El Puma, a Latina artist and activist who has used performance art and martial arts to inspire others.
Watch all the videos below to see all 10 stories of the recipients of CNN’s Heroes: An All-Star Tribute Award.