Dr. Ricardo Pun-Chong was chosen as CNN’s “2018 Hero of the Year” for his decade-long commitment to charity work in Peru.
He has provided free housing, meals and support for poor families of sick children receiving free treatment.
Each year since 2007, CNN honors individuals who “make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities” via “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.”
Dr. Pun-Chon was presented with the 2018 Hero of the Year award on Sunday by hosts Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.
According to CNN, the Asian Peruvian physician was completing his medical training in Lima, Peru when he noticed that many poor families would travel long distances just to seek medical help for their children.
“The journey, it’s very difficult,” Pun-Chong was quoted as saying. “People have to cross the mountains or take a boat to cross the river. It can take many days. Just imagine having this trip with a kid with cancer.”
“I couldn’t get the picture of the families sleeping on the floor out of my mind,” Pun-Chong noted. “So, I decided to do something for them.”
In 2008, he decided to create Inspira, a home that cares for children from poor provinces who must travel miles to receive medical treatment in hospitals such as Hospital del Niño, INEN, and the National Institute of Child Health San Borja, among others.
The shelter, which he set up with the help of his family and friends, was designed to make the children feel at home and provide a space for kids to “be kids.” His organization has so far helped over 800 families.
Pun-Chong was named the 2018 CNN Hero of the Year after online voters selected him from among the Top 10 CNN Heroes finalists.
Pun-Chong’s award comes with a $100,000 cash prize to allow him to grow his cause.
“We can start building our new shelter with this — with this prize, we can triple our assistance,” Pun-Chong said as he accepted his award. “Thank you so much CNN — thank you so much everybody.”
“The real heroes are our kids. Infinite thank yous to each one of you for trusting us and showing us that love has no borders.”
Featured Image via YouTube / CNN