For the past three years CNN has honored heroes, and this year Anderson Cooper hosted the event at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood Saturday night. Efren PeÃ±aflorida, who started a “pushcart classroom” in the Philippines to bring education to poor children as an alternative to gang membership, was named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year.
PeÃ±aflorida, who will receive $100,000 to continue his work with the Dynamic Teen Company, was selected after seven weeks of online voting at CNN.com. More than 2.75 million votes were cast.
Among those celebrities attending the event were Anderson Cooper, Dwayne Johnson, Masi Oka, Eva Mendes, Nicole Kidman Kate Flannery, Jenna Fischer, Carrie Ann Inaba, Leona Lewis, Greg Kinnear, Debi Mezar, Rainn Wilson, Ricki Lake, Randy Jackson, Louis Gossett Jr, Neil Patrick Harris, Laila Ali, Terrance Howard, AnnaLynnne McCord, Cat Cora and Carrie Underwood.
The gala event will be broadcast on Thanksgiving, November 26, at 9pm ET/PT on CNN.