Programming Note: CNN Heroes received more than ten thousand nominations from 100 countries. A Blue Ribbon Panel selected the Top 10 CNN Heroes for the year. Voting for the CNN Hero of the Year continues through November 18th (6am ET) at CNNHeroes.com
Editor's Note: Harmon Parker is using his masonry skills to save lives. Since 1997, he’s built 45 footbridges over Kenya's perilous rivers, protecting people from flash floods and predatory animals. The bridges also connect isolated communities with valuable resources.
I was in a grass roof Banda in West Pokot [Kenya] where I’d been working on a new bridge project. I was staring at a bat hanging from the ceiling and listening to a rat run around on the floor trying to fall asleep.
It was at that moment, 10:18PM, when my cell phone rang. It’s very interesting because I normally do not have cell phone reception in this area…I thought it might be my wife, so I answered the phone.
I was surprised to hear a man’s voice. He introduced himself and said he wanted to share some news with me, so I said, “fire away.” …He then told me he was happy to say that the CNN Blue Ribbon panel had selected me, to be one of the top Ten CNN Heroes for 2010!
To say I was excited doesn’t begin to describe my first reaction; my heart was pumping hard from the adrenaline rush and I found myself repeating, “You have to be kidding, you have to be kidding!”
So there I was, alone, in the middle of the African bush, and a very nice gentleman from New York is telling me that Bridging the Gap’s story was going to be aired on the CNN HEROES tribute in LA on Thanksgiving evening! Sleep eluded me for the rest of the night, but who needs sleep when you’ve just been told that you’re a Top 10 CNN Hero?
To be honest…I’m still processing it all. I keep thinking, “ Harmon, this is CNN for heaven’s sake, you know, Anderson Cooper, Ted Turner, and all the others.” It’s unbelievable.
Sorry for the cliché, but I am incredibly humbled and honored by this recognition. I have only seen one CNN Heroes Tribute show, and I was very moved by the amazing people who were being honored. To think I will soon join this prestigious family of Heroes is beyond my wildest dreams.
I want people to know that my work is saving lives by providing safe access over perilous rivers. Our simple bridges are incredibly effective and helping poor communities in so many ways. Bridges are vital for health, education and commerce – bridges are beautiful! Please get behind us and help us bridge the gap for many!
Filed under: CNN Heroes
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