Photo: Elena Durón Miranda and Eddie Canales
The 2011 CNN Hero Award Top Ten finalists are in, and there are two Latino’s aspiring for the recognition. Elena Durón Miranda and Eddie Canales are the two Latinos you can vote for as the CNN Hero of the Year.
First up is Elena Durón Miranda, a Mexican Psychologist that has spent the last decade at the helm of PETISOS (Prevención y Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil SOS or Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor SOS). Her Argentine non-profit is dedicated to providing children with education and programs that are alternatives to child labor.
During a visit to Argentina eleven years ago, Elena was horrified to find children as young as her own 3 year old rummaging through Bariloche’s trash dumps for food, and valuables.
“I saw children collect green sausages, a bag of potato chip crumbs, a bag of noodles with cream, and recovered leftover yogurt next to a diaper […] the children began to gently clean the food—wiping each little noodle, each potato and peeling the sausage skin so methodically and accurately. It was as if they had done this same activity many times.”
Nowadays, over 200 children benefit from PETISOS, and their team of professionals and volunteers working with the children to ensure their growth.
“We carry out very personalized tracking of all the boys and girls we work with, […] we work with the families, we work with the schools, we work with the medical or health centers in order to ... get them out of the labor situation.”
The group is sustained by generous donations, and grant programs. As a result of Elena’s efforts, many children have gone on to graduate from high school and attend college.
Eddie Canales, the other Latino nominated for a CNN Hero Award had the two most life-changing moments of his last ten years, occur on a football field.
Almost ten years ago, on November of 2001 Canales was watching his high school senior boy play an above average game, sure to impress the three colleges offering him a spot on their teams.
With four minutes left in the game, Chris Canales made a touch-down saving tackle but something went very wrong and Chris was left paralyzed.
In the midst of battling depression at the one year anniversary of the accident, Eddie took his son to a high school football game. Little did the pair know that their lives would change again on that field.
As father and son watched the game from the stands, a player went down, and was left immobilized in the field. Both Eddie and Chris knew why.
“Chris turned to me and said, ‘Dad, we’ve got to go help him,’ ” Eddie recalled.
Eddie’s life took another 90 degree turn that day when he found his life’s purpose.
The Canales’ visited the injured player and his family in the hospital, and in a matter of months, Gridiron Heroes begun.
Rather than raising money for medical research, Canales’ nonprofit Gridiron Heroes provides emotional support to injured players and their families.
“We try to provide information, inspiration and hope,” Eddie said. “We want to make sure they don’t feel alone. […] Someone injured on a professional level is going to be taken care of,” he said. “But on a high school level, it’s a totally different story.”
For more information, and for voting for this exemplar Latinos and the other CNN Hero of the Year nominees, visit the CNN Heroes Site