Doctor with a big heart is 2018 CNN Hero of the Year

For Dr. Ricardo Pun-Chong, being a physician isn't just about treating patients -- it's about how you care f...

Posted: Dec 28, 2018 10:42 AM
Updated: Dec 28, 2018 10:42 AM

For Dr. Ricardo Pun-Chong, being a physician isn't just about treating patients -- it's about how you care for their families.

As a doctor undergoing his medical training in Lima, Peru, Pun-Chong treated many children who traveled with their parents from rural parts of the country. And for most, it's a dangerous journey -- over mountains, across rivers and along unsafe roads, all for medical treatment.

Charities and charitable giving

Society

Heroes and heroism

Children

Demographic groups

Families and children

Family members and relatives

Population and demographics

Once in Lima, far from home and often unable to afford lengthy hotel stays, Pun-Chong saw many families forced to curl up on the hospital floors.

"I couldn't get the picture of the families sleeping on the floor out of my mind," Pun-Chong told CNN earlier this year. "So, I decided to do something for them."

On Sunday night, Pun-Chong was named the 2018 CNN Hero of the Year for his efforts to provide free housing, meals and support for sick children and their families while they undergo treatment. The award is determined by online voters who selected Pun-Chong from among the Top 10 CNN Heroes finalists.

In 2008, he founded a shelter and a nonprofit called Inspira and to date, his organization has helped more than 800 families. The shelter was designed to make the children feel at home and to provide a space for kids to "be kids."

Pun-Chong will receive $100,000 to grow his cause. All of the top 10 CNN Heroes for 2018 will receive a $10,000 cash award, and donations made to each of their nonprofit organizations are also being matched up to $50,000.

"We can start building our new shelter with this -- with this prize, we can triple our assistance," Pun-Chong said. "Thank you so much CNN -- thank you so much everybody."

He was presented with the Hero of the Year award by hosts Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.

"The real heroes are our kids," Pun-Chong said. "Infinite thank yous to each one of you for trusting us and showing us that love has no borders."

Sunday's CNN Heroes Top 10 tribute show was chock full of stars and good vibes, laughs and some tears -- but only the happy kind.

Ripa and Cooper emceed the show from New York's American Museum of Natural History, and Grammy Award winner Lenny Kravitz got the crowd moving by performing the song "Here to Love" from his album "Raise Vibration."

Will Ferrell, Bryan Cranston, Danai Gurira, John C. Reilly and Ted Danson were among the stars in attendance. And even Sully, former President George H.W. Bush's service dog, was on hand ... err, paw ... to celebrate an incredible cast of everyday heroes.

Here's how the rest of the top 10 CNN Heroes are changing lives in their communities:

  • Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, a computer programmer in Lagos, Nigeria, teaches impoverished women in the city's slums how to code through a program run by the Pearls Africa Foundation.

  • Maria Rose Belding launched MEANS, a platform that reduces food waste by connecting restaurants and businesses with extra food to charities that feed the hungry.

  • After she was paralyzed in a ski accident, Amanda Boxtel started Bridging Bionics -- a nonprofit that provides high-tech physical therapy to people with mobility impairments near Aspen, Colorado.

  • Dr. Rob Gore, an emergency physician in Brooklyn, New York, founded the Kings Against Violence Initiative, which leads anti-violence programs in his community.

  • Luke Mickelson quit his high-paying job to found Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit that builds and delivers beds to children in need.

  • Susan Munsey escaped from a life of sex trafficking and in 2009 started GenerateHope, a group that provides housing, therapy and more to survivors of sex trafficking.

  • At age 87, Florence Phillips still leads her nonprofit -- ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada -- which provides free English, computer and GED classes to immigrants.

  • Ellen Stackable is a former English teacher who founded Poetic Justice, a nonprofit that teaches creative writing to incarcerated women in Oklahoma.

Also honored Sunday were the 2018 CNN Heroes Young Wonders, an impressive group who despite their young age, are already making the world a better place. This year's class is working to eliminate plastic bags, feed the homeless and much more.

Beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 9, donations made to the designated nonprofit organization of each Top 10 CNN Hero, via CNNHeroes.com and crowdrise.com/cnnheroes, will be matched by Subaru up to $50,000 per Hero through January 2, 2019.

Now in its 12th year, the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" has profiled more than 300 heroes and has received nearly 100,000 nominations from more than 100 countries.

To learn more, like CNN Heroes on Facebook, follow @CNNHeroes on Twitter and use hashtag #CNNHeroes. Behind-the-scenes images can be seen on the CNN Heroes Instagram account.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 261167

Reported Deaths: 5713
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17561191
Hinds16687329
Harrison14050202
Rankin11102217
Jackson10729188
Lee9014143
Madison8495168
Jones6607114
Forrest6135122
Lauderdale6067192
Lowndes5490120
Lafayette511794
Lamar499865
Washington4904125
Bolivar4087109
Oktibbeha403581
Panola380981
Pontotoc374757
Monroe3651106
Warren3649103
Union353263
Marshall352069
Neshoba3464154
Pearl River3422105
Leflore3090109
Lincoln304287
Sunflower290373
Hancock288461
Tate279062
Alcorn270754
Pike268180
Itawamba266662
Scott256048
Yazoo253756
Prentiss251153
Copiah247649
Tippah247550
Coahoma245954
Simpson241471
Leake236167
Grenada222471
Marion220273
Covington219072
Adams212370
Wayne208432
Winston205870
George203539
Newton197346
Attala196461
Tishomingo193861
Chickasaw188444
Jasper177838
Holmes171368
Clay164237
Tallahatchie155635
Stone149525
Clarke144762
Calhoun139922
Smith127725
Yalobusha121134
Walthall114037
Greene112929
Noxubee112225
Montgomery111236
Carroll106422
Lawrence105617
Perry104031
Amite100826
Webster95424
Tunica88221
Claiborne87825
Jefferson Davis87727
Benton84823
Humphreys84224
Kemper80020
Quitman7049
Franklin69617
Choctaw62513
Wilkinson59625
Jefferson56520
Sharkey44817
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 28°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 31°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 23°
Starkville
Mostly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 34°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather