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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: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19560229
Hinds18674385
Harrison16512276
Rankin12595262
Jackson12451217
Lee9663160
Madison9400195
Jones7891145
Forrest7140136
Lauderdale6784225
Lowndes6008137
Lamar584480
Lafayette5707113
Washington5159128
Bolivar4594120
Oktibbeha439991
Panola426892
Pearl River4116128
Warren4114113
Pontotoc407368
Marshall399492
Monroe3980126
Union392873
Neshoba3767166
Lincoln3464100
Hancock339973
Leflore3358118
Sunflower317185
Tate300874
Pike298393
Scott292567
Alcorn290360
Itawamba288871
Yazoo283862
Tippah275665
Copiah274557
Coahoma272766
Simpson271778
Prentiss268658
Leake251770
Wayne251340
Marion250778
Covington247878
Grenada245876
Adams233277
George230645
Newton224751
Winston220275
Jasper211844
Tishomingo211765
Attala206269
Chickasaw200650
Holmes181670
Clay178149
Stone171429
Tallahatchie169839
Clarke168671
Calhoun156428
Smith151831
Yalobusha142936
Greene126833
Walthall123540
Noxubee122729
Perry121434
Montgomery121237
Lawrence119321
Carroll117623
Amite110832
Webster109929
Jefferson Davis100531
Tunica98623
Claiborne97729
Benton93124
Humphreys91626
Kemper89522
Quitman77014
Franklin75519
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61427
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491110

Reported Deaths: 9831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson706291356
Mobile35894721
Madison32255442
Tuscaloosa23996409
Montgomery22462494
Shelby21820215
Baldwin19670274
Lee14900150
Morgan13599249
Calhoun13175285
Etowah13143319
Marshall11226206
Houston10048259
Elmore9337183
Limestone9335134
Cullman8869179
St. Clair8783220
Lauderdale8581210
DeKalb8429174
Talladega7481163
Walker6504251
Jackson6477102
Autauga620389
Blount6086125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5230102
Dale4621106
Russell401831
Franklin397876
Covington3956106
Chilton384298
Escambia377172
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke342949
Dallas3397141
Chambers3392108
Pike293071
Lawrence281384
Marion280894
Winston246166
Bibb244260
Geneva238670
Marengo233354
Pickens223954
Barbour209951
Hale208868
Fayette199756
Butler195165
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe165938
Randolph163140
Washington156634
Crenshaw143554
Clay143354
Macon140943
Cleburne136839
Lamar131732
Lowndes130648
Wilcox120825
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98431
Coosa87823
Greene87032
Choctaw54823
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