Two Michigan residents have been honored to be in the top 10 for “CNN Heroes,” a network television special that recognizes “everyday people doing extraordinary things to change the world.”
Najah Bazzy of Detroit and Zach Wigal of Ann Arbor are both in the running to be the CNN Hero of the Year. The winner will be announced during the live “CNN Heroes: An All-Start Tribute” show on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Bazzy is the founder and CEO of Zaman International, a nonprofit agency that aims to support marginalized women and children in the Detroit area, from providing basic necessities like clothes, food, and furniture to promoting self-sustainability through training, education and job placement.
“We work to stabilize them as quickly as we can,” Bazzy told CNN. “Women walk in and they are in desperate need, and they walk out with their basic needs met.”
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What started out as a small effort out of Bazzy’s home has become an established organization operating out of a 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Inkster.
As a visible Muslim woman who wears a hijab, Bazzy has had her share of death threats and hate. She told CNN’s Kathleen Toner, “To know that you can put out love, but there are people out there who will judge love, this saddens me.” However, she has helped more than 250,000 people and has no intention of stopping.
Bazzy’s ultimate goal is to empower women so that they can reach their potential.
Wigal is the founder of Gamers Outreach, a nonprofit group that gives hospitalized children access to video games while they are under care.
“We noticed that a lot of the video games were getting stuck in playrooms,” Wigal told CNN. “And because of that, there was a whole segment of the hospital population that was, sort of, limited to whatever it was they had access to their bedside environment.”
Gamers Outreach designed portable video game carts called “GOKarts” that can be rolled from one room to another to give gaming access to children who can’t leave their rooms as “a source of fun and relief during stressful and difficult times.”
Patient technologist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Andrew Gabanyicz said some kids have seen health benefits, such as decreased anxiety and pain medication usage.
GoKarts are used in 50 hospitals and have helped more than a million children.
You can cast 10 votes per day every day for CNN Hero of the Year until Dec. 3.
The winner will receive $100,000 to use toward their organization, sponsored by the Annenberg Foundation.
Past local top 10 CNN Heroes were Detroit’s Khali Sweeney and Southfield’s Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg in 2017 and 2014, respectively.
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