Chad Pregracke of Quad Cities, Illinois Named 2013 CNN “Hero of the Year”

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Chad Pregracke of East Moline, IL, part of the Quad Cities, was named the 2013 “Hero of the Year” by CNN on Tuesday, November 19th at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

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The fact is I’m one person who saw a problem on the Mississippi River and took action. The real story here is that once the issue was brought to light, people jumped on board and started a movement that has evolved to what it is today.

Chad Pregracke of East Moline, IL, part of the Quad Cities, was named the 2013 “Hero of the Year” by CNN on Tuesday, November 19th at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The filming of the seventh Annual CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute was hosted by Anderson Cooper and included stars of film, television, music and theater in the audience. The program airs on Sunday, December 1 at 7:00 pm CT, and will be simulcast on CNNI and CNN Espanol.

CNN Heroes is a multi-platform campaign that shines a spotlight on individuals who go to extraordinary lengths to serve others. Since its inception, CNN Heroes has received over 50,000 submissions from more than 100 countries and profiled over 200 heroes. Chad Pregracke is the second American to receive the award and the only environmental cause.

Pregracke has dedicated his life to cleaning up the Mississippi River and other American waterways. Since 1998, nearly 70,000 volunteers have helped Pregracke and his non-profit organization remove more than 7 million pounds of garbage from 23 rivers across the country. “The fact is I’m one person who saw a problem on the Mississippi River and took action. The real story here is that once the issue was brought to light, people jumped on board and started a movement that has evolved to what it is today,” Pregracke said. “This recognition is their award. I’m honored and gratified to accept on their behalf.”

The 2013 Top 10 CNN Heroes included Dale Beatty (Statesville, NC), Georges Bwelle (Yaoundé, Cameroon), Robin Emmons (Charlotte, NC), Danielle Gletow (Trenton, NJ), Tawanda Jones (Camden, NJ), Richard Nares (San Diego, CA), Kakenya Ntaiya (Enoosaen, Kenya), Estella Pyfrom (West Palm Beach, FL), and Laura Stachel (Berkeley, CA).

Each of the Top 10 CNN Heroes received $50,000 in recognition of their work and Pregracke's organization, Living Lands & Waters, will receive an additional $250,000 grant.

“I spent time with all the honorees and was so inspired. Every one of them is doing work that is literally changing lives and making the world a better place,” said Pregracke. In recognition of their efforts, Pregracke has since donated $10,000 of his award to each of the honorees’ causes. “It was emotional to hear their stories and I was humbled to be in their company. They’re rain makers and it felt right to share the award and enhance the recognition of their efforts.”

For the latest information about the Top 10 CNN Heroes, viewers and online users are encouraged to visit http://www.CNNHeroes.com/, CNN Heroes on Facebook, follow @CNNHeroes on Twitter and use the hashtag #CNNHeroes. Additionally, behind-the-scenes CNN Heroes images can be viewed on CNN Heroes’ Instagram account.

CNN HEROES: AN ALL STAR TRIBUTE, HOSTED BY ANDERSON COOPER, AIRS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1 AT 7:00PM CT

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About Living Lands & Waters
Chad Pregracke started Living Lands & Waters in 1998 as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the beautification and restoration of America’s major rivers and to the education of people about environmental issues. From his single boat beginning, LL&W has grown to an internationally known organization with a fleet of barges and workboats. LL&W engages thousands of volunteers each year in river cleanups, hands-on environmental education workshops, the Great Mississippi River Cleanup, Adopt-a-River-Mile programs and the Million Trees Project. http://www.livinglandsandwaters.org

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