Gamers Outreach Founder Named Top 10 CNN Hero

General News | November 3, 2019

Voting to select the 2019 CNN Hero of the year has begun! Please vote for Zach Wigal each day here!

Exciting news, friends! CNN has announced their top 10 heroes of the year, and our founder Zach Wigal has been selected!

The selected heroes this year cover a wide variety of charitable causes. One hero brings transformative help to women and children, providing necessities, education and job training to those in an economically depressed city; another provides refurbished RV’s to displaced families after California’s worst wildfire; one provides tools and support to children grieving the loss of a parent or sibling and another shelters the pets of domestic violence victims so that their owners can get back on their feet. These are just some of the ways in which this year’s Top 10 CNN Heroes have dedicated their lives to changing the world.

The Peabody and Emmy Award-winning campaign celebrates individuals who are making extraordinary contributions to help improve the lives of others. Anderson Cooper will be joined by Kelly Ripa as co-host of the 13th Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute. The awards show, which celebrates all Top 10 honorees, will air Sunday, December 8th at 8pm ET live from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Beginning October 30th, voters can select the ‘CNN Hero of the Year’ by voting for the Top 10 CNN Hero who inspires them the most. Supporters can vote daily at by logging in via email or Facebook. Viewers get 10 votes a day, every day through Tuesday, December 3rd at 11:59pm PT. All 10 daily votes can be cast for one hero or divided among favorites.  This year, viewers can even double their votes by rallying friends on social media.

The 2019 Top 10 CNN Heroes are (in alphabetical order):

  • STACI ALONSO (Las Vegas, NV) Alonso’s nonprofit, Noah’s Animal House, located on the grounds of domestic violence shelters, allows women to keep their beloved pets close as they get back on their feet.
  • NAJAH BAZZY (Detroit, MI) In one of America’s most economically depressed cities, Bazzy and her nonprofit, Zaman International, bring transformative help to women and children providing basic necessities, education and job training.
  • WOODY FAIRCLOTH (Denver, CO) Faircloth and his group, RV4CampfireFamily, deliver free refurbished RVs to displaced families rebuilding their lives after California’s worst wildfire.
  • FREWEINI MEBRAHTU (Mekelle, Ethiopia) Mebrahtu along with partner, Dignity Period, is fighting the cultural stigma around menstruation in Ethiopia by educating students and producing reusable pads that help girls stay in school.
  • MARK MEYERS (San Angelo, TX) Meyers and his nonprofit, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, are dedicated to rescuing abused and neglected donkeys and giving them a new lease on life.
  • RICHARD MILES (Dallas, TX) Wrongfully convicted for a crime he did not commit at age 19, Miles served 15 years in a Texas prison. Now he and his nonprofit, Miles of Freedom, help the formerly incarcerated restart their lives.
  • ROGER MONTOYA (Española, NM) In an area of New Mexico hard-hit by the opioid crisis, Montoya provides healing and hope through creative expression at his nonprofit arts center, Moving Arts Española.
  • MARY ROBINSON (Mountainside, NJ) Robinson’s nonprofit, Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, provides tools, support and a place to heal for children grieving the loss of a parent or sibling.
  • AFROZ SHAH (Mumbai, India) What started as a personal journey to clean one beach turned into the world’s largest volunteer beach clean-up. The Afroz Shah Foundation is on a mission to protect the ocean by clearing trash from beaches and waterways and through education.
  • ZACH WIGAL (Ann Arbor, MI) Wigal’s nonprofit, Gamers Outreach, is turning gaming into therapy, bringing the camaraderie and excitement of video games to sick kids who can’t leave their hospital rooms during long-term medical treatment.

Each Top 10 CNN Hero are awarded $10,000 and the ‘CNN Hero of the Year’ will receive an additional $100,000 for their cause. The honorees will also receive free capacity-building training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide. They will participate in a customized version of the Annenberg Alchemy program in Los Angeles, CA, which offers leadership development to help strengthen organizations for long-term success.  This is the eighth year of CNN’s collaboration with the Annenberg Foundation.

“CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” will stream live for subscribers on December 8th via CNNgo (at and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Samsung Smart TV and Android TV) and on the CNN mobile apps for iOS and Android. “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” will also be available the day after the broadcast premieres on demand via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms and CNN mobile apps.

Last but certainly not least, WE NEED YOUR HELP! As mentioned earlier, the Hero of the Year award is given to the charity with the most votes. Securing this epic win would mean the world for our team, as well as the kids and families we support in hospitals. Your vote is needed to bring home the trophy! This award is a representation of the joy games can bring to people in hospitals around the world. We’re asking for your vote and help to spread the word!

Vote here each day and let’s help others level up!