Prime Time Hero

By Marissa Brostoff

Published December 12, 2007, issue of December 14, 2007.
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If the Nobel committee were composed of the people who choose the winner of The CW’s “America’s Next Top Model,” the result might be something like the new TV show “CNN Heroes.”

Rick Hodes, who runs the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee\'s medical program in Ethiopia, was a finalist on the TV show \'CNN Heroes.\'
Rick Hodes, who runs the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee\'s medical program in Ethiopia, was a finalist on the TV show \'CNN Heroes.\'

Last week, a celebrity panel that included actress Bo Derek, guru Deepak Chopra and singer Jewel considered Rick Hodes, who runs the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s medical program in Ethiopia, for the top spot on “Heroes.”

Hodes, however, didn’t feel like he was on a reality TV show, because he has never seen one. He also confessed to being unfamiliar with most of the B-listers on the panel of judges.

“I have no contact with American culture these days,” Hodes said, “so I kind of missed that part” of the show.

That’s because he’s too busy treating destitute cancer patients in Ethiopia. The Johns Hopkins-trained physician oversees treatment for thousands of people in Addis Ababa seeking to immigrate to Israel. Hodes spends his free time at Mother Teresa’s Mission in Addis Ababa — also sponsored by the JDC — where he and a group of nuns care for people suffering from such illnesses as tuberculosis, malaria and cancer. He has taken several of his younger patients into his home and paid out of pocket for their treatment.

Hodes and the 17 other “Heroes” finalists were chosen from a list of more than 7,000 candidates nominated by CNN viewers. The panel of judges — which also included actual Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus — chose six “heroes” from that list for special recognition.

They didn’t choose Hodes. The prize in his category, “Championing Children,” went to Steve Peifer, who works with schools in Kenya.

So, Hodes is a hero but, according to this show, not a superhero.


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