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Special Project

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From the 6th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute

Winner in Television

About this entry

Since 2007, CNN Heroes has honored hundreds of everyday people who are making the world a better place. In that time, viewers have donated millions of dollars to support the Heroes' causes and help them continue their life-changing work. In 2020, Covid-19 forced us to re-imagine CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, and despite a lockdown that shuttered production, we created a program that matched this historic year.


Following months of upheaval, we asked our audience to vote on the year's 'Most Inspiring Moments:"

-       Nightly salutes to frontline workers

-       Gianna Floyd declaring "Daddy changed the world"

-       Workers quarantining in a factory to make tons of raw material for PPE

-       Patrick Hutchinson rescuing a former police officer at a London protest

-       Music lifting spirits during the pandemic

-       The global spotlight shining on social justice


Using Telescope's technology, viewers shared their votes with their followers on Facebook and Twitter. They also recorded short videos telling us what inspired them about their selected moment. These videos featured throughout the show helped tell the story of each moment's impact.

The winning moment was Patrick Hutchinson’s rescue. It even caught the attention of Michele Obama who shared video from the show with her social media followers.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute brought together some of the biggest names in entertainment to highlight the best of humanity and help us honor everyday heroes who changed and saved lives through a monumentally challenging year. As Jim Gaffigan put it at the top of the show: “This is the Oscars for good people."

Though Covid-19 meant no red carpet or in-person audience, hosts Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa put hope and healing center stage. For two hours, a diverse group of presenters focused the world's attention on the amazing people and extraordinary acts happening on the frontlines of the coronavirus and in the battle for racial equity and social justice.

Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, made a surprise appearance to honor those working to keep their communities fed through the pandemic. Angela Bassett, Orlando Bloom, Glenn Close, and Gal Gadot were also among the presenters. Many offered positive messages during the show and then shared stories with their social media followers across platforms.

The CNN Heroes audience added to the night's impact, donating more than $600,000 to eight vetted nonprofits. Their missions include ending the stigma around mental illness, helping students and teachers prepare for tomorrow, fulfilling the wishes of children battling critical illness, and more.

Working with GoFundMe, CNN facilitated donation matching from Subaru. Subaru's sponsorship of CNN Heroes goes back more than a decade. The company offered a dollar-for-dollar match up to $500,000 split between the eight organizations. 

In the weeks leading up to CNN Heroes, our audience voted on the year's "Most Inspiring Moment." The six options included Gianna Floyd proclaiming that her "Daddy changed the world;" workers quarantining in their factory to make enough PPE material for 1.5 billion surgical masks; and the nightly salutes to frontline workers.

Viewers selected Patrick Hutchinson's rescue of former police officer Bryn Male at a London protest as the year's "Most Inspiring Moment." Michelle Obama was moved to share the story with her social media followers.

Technology from Telescope offered voters the opportunity to share their vote with friends and family through Facebook and Twitter. Voters also recorded videos explaining how their selected moment inspired them. Many of these videos were integrated throughout the show.

The show continued our tradition of honoring Young Wonders. Cavanaugh Bell, 8, delivered hundreds of care packages to seniors and opened a food pantry; Tiana Day, 18, led a Black Lives Matter protest across the Golden Gate Bridge and then launched her nonprofit; and student pilot TJ Kim, 16, has flown essential PPE supplies to rural hospitals.

CNN Heroes also featured two news-making interviews with special guests Dr. Anthony Fauci and World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés.

The night culminated with Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo performing David Bowie’s classic, “Heroes.” Her voice made his words, “we can be heroes,” cut through a year of darkness to remind us that there is always hope, light, and a way to make the world a better place.



Total donations through CNN Heroes GoFundMe Page: $601,966

Subaru Contribution: $500,000

CNN Contribution: $80,000

Total: $1,181,966

Most Inspiring Moments vote:

Total Votes: 36,700

Unique Voters: 19,459

Voter videos submitted: 398

Featured Stories:

Covid-19 ICU nurse Shannon Basara endures untold stress at her job but benefited from the First Descents Hero Recharge program, which provides free adventures to frontline workers

Scientist Mike Smith worked round the clock to develop a vaccine for Moderna.

Dawn Baker, a volunteer vaccine tester and the first person in a Phase 3 clinical trial in the US

Rahul Dubey sheltered 72 Black Lives Matter protesters overnight to prevent them from being arrested

Tattoo artist Ryun King helped start the Cover the Hate campaign to cover hate tattoos for free

Michelle Brenner earned the nickname of the "Lasagna Lady" by making and delivering thousands of free homemade lasagnas to anyone in her community

Shelly Tygielski founded Pandemic of Love to match up people who need help with those who can provide it

Desmond Meade, of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition worked to extend democracy in his home state by removing obstacles that prevented citizens with felony convictions from being able to vote

DJ D-Nice brought his unique brand of joy to people in quarantine 

Audience Reactions

#CNNHeroes This year requires more tissues than years prior. Loving every second. Thank you @CNN for giving us a full 2 hours of love & positivity. We desperately need it this year!





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