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CNN awards 2018 Hero of the Year

Dr. Ricardo 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.

Posted: Dec 10, 2018 10:48 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2018 11:03 PM

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.

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: 156868

Reported Deaths: 3851
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
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