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Senior Correspondent

Yes, it's true. As a comedian on the CNN Heroes of 2013 awards presentation observed, there were only 10 "good people" being honored for extraordinary dedication to a cause of their choosing. That doesn't mean there aren't many more people out there doing good things, but the numbers are really very small if you take the whole world's population into account.

I am sure to watch CNN's Heroes of the Year program every year. Each year, I cheer and cry at their moving stories of bravery and resilience. And, unlike mega-rich philanthropists, these are "ordinary" people whose names and exact deeds you won't remember. But they are indeed heroes — perhaps even moreso because money neither helped nor hindered their determination.

Everyone has a chance to nominate a hero on-line. The categories are Community Crusader, Defending the Planet, Medical Marvel, Protecting the Powerless, Young Wonder (under 25), or Other. You need to answer some on-line questions — Why does your nominee deserve recognition? How has s/he made a difference for the better? What was a specific incident or turning point that motivated your nominee? Is there anything else that makes your nominee exceptional or unique? How will being recognized as a CNN Hero further your nominee's cause?

The diversity of the ten heroes is always impressive. Gender, age, race, part of the world they come from, where they pursue their good deeds, and what motivates them to do what they do set them apart. Some are motivated by hardships they faced in their own lives. Or, as one hero, Chad Pregracke, put it, "If no one else will do anything about it, I will." But these remarkable people all share an important common thread. Whatever their cause, they didn't wait for others to make the changes they wanted. And with the strength of will and a long term needle-sharp focus on their goal, they found a way.

Winners this year were Dale Beatty, Georges Bwelle, Robin Emmos, Danielle Gletow, Tawanda Jones, Richard Nares, Kakenya Ntaiya, Chad Pregracke, Estella Pyfrom, and Laura Stachel. They each received $50,000 from CNN, plus other donations sent in through the CNN Heroes website. Chad Pregracke was chosen as the Hero of the Year, also selected through the website. For 15 years, the Mississippi River has been cleaner because he, and those he could encourage to do so with him, cleaned up 7 million pounds of trash, most of which is recycled. He looked totally shocked to be chosen as Hero of the Year, and true to his inclusive, generous nature, promised another $10,000 to every other 2013 Hero from his prize of $250,000.

Hooray for these ten truly extraordinary individuals, and for the many other volunteers who give of themselves to thousands of other causes.

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