These 10 Heroes Are Inspiring America With Their Extraordinary Work for Others

In celebration of Inspiring America: The 2022 Inspirational List, E! News is shining a light on celebrities and ordinary Americans making a difference for others.

By Mike Vulpo May 07, 2022 2:00 PMTags

It's always a good time to look for the helpers. 

For the second year in a row, NBC News is highlighting stories of individuals who have made an impact on their communities and industries in a special titled Inspiring America.

Hosted by Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, the televised event will recognize Rita Moreno, Nathan Chen, Mikaela Shiffrin and other honorees who earned a spot on The 2022 Inspiration List

Before the show kicks off May 7 on NBC, E! News is highlighting a few more philanthropists who are making a difference in their local communities and around the world. One standout is boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, whose foundation is committed to funding research and care for pediatric type 1 & 2 diabetes. 

"I made an impact in the ring, and now it's my privilege to make an impact outside of the ring," he told E! News before his 11th annual "Big Fighters, Big Cause" Charity Boxing Night on May 25 in Los Angeles. "I look forward to many more years of giving back!"

Do-Gooder Gallery

Keep reading to learn more about how Sugar Ray and other Americans are stepping up to make a difference for those in need.

And don't miss Inspiring America: The 2022 Inspiration List airing Saturday, May 7 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

Andrew Whitworth

St. Joseph Center Champion

"I have been working with the St. Joseph Center for the past few years and they create a safe place for many people in need with dignity and respect. They do incredible work to provide working poor families as well as homeless men, women and children of all ages the resources to give them a clear line of sight and to come out on top. My wife Melissa and I are strong believers in family and faith and giving back to the community. It is the three pillars we can demonstrate to our children and to make a small difference in someone else's life is what means the world to us. It doesn't take much to put a smile on someone's face and to listen."

Kelley McBride

CEO of Tennis Serves Others

"It is truly an honor to live out our mission statement in all that we do: play tennis, serve others, love all. As an organization that is young and growing, we feel honored to make an impact in the lives of those we serve. Because of a little yellow ball and in five short years, women playing tennis on the courts of Orange County, Calif., have made a difference in the lives of teen parents, deployed military, homeless, wounded warriors, special needs athletes, orphans in Africa and Peru, domestic abuse victims, families who lost children to pediatric cancer, youth tennis players and therapeutic animals. Our impact is felt and it is humbling and gratifying to know that in addition to playing a sport we love, we are changing lives."

Sugar Ray Leonard

President of Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation

"I feel like it's my responsibility to support children's causes and always use my success for the good of others. That is why my wife Bernadette and I started The Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation more than 13 years ago. We wanted to help kids and families struggling with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. I am always so inspired by the hard work of doctors, psychologists and caregivers in the diabetes community and how much they fight to give those living with diabetes better, more fulfilled lives. I always say that in life, like in boxing, you have to have ‘a great corner.' I feel like I have the best corner in the world when it comes to what my Foundation has been able to achieve philanthropically."

Grace Peters

Manager of Comprehensive Cleft Care at Smile Train

"Like the millions of patients we serve, I was born with a cleft. But unlike so many of them, I had access to high-quality surgical care immediately as well as on-going cleft care beyond surgery. The randomization of life is something I've contemplated more times than I can count. But, instead of questioning the things I couldn't change, I decided to focus on what I could control: my ability to be a voice, an advocate and a leader for those who were not as fortunate as me…and the randomization of life seemed a bit less random after that."

Kyle Stefanski

Executive Director of Rhonda's Kiss

"In putting together our community events like toy drives, Cyclehouse events and large galas, I am blessed to keep my mother's legacy alive, and stay connected to her, myself, in helping those struck by the terrible illness that is cancer. We give hope to those in need. Life can be so hard when you're also undergoing chemo and radiation, I find it unfair that there are patients who feel abandoned with life struggles while fighting for their lives. Cancer patients who need to pay daily bills, who have been evicted, need rides to or from the hospital, patients who need to buy wigs, childcare and more. It is an incredible feeling to know that you gave a person a chance who wouldn't have had that chance if your program didn't exist."

Jasmin Harris

Associate Director of Policy for California Innocence Project

"The most rewarding part of my work at the California Innocence Project is being able to craft laws in California that bring innocent people home to their families after years, sometimes decades, of wrongful incarceration. People like Kimberly Long [photographed above], who served more than seven years in prison for a crime she did not commit, are able to be mothers to their children again because of laws I helped to create. I will continue to fight to prevent wrongful convictions from happening in the first place, create avenues of relief for innocent incarcerated people and strive to forge a support system for those who get to come home through our shared criminal legal system."

Rev. Troy Vaughn

President and CEO of Los Angeles Mission

"I have seen firsthand the difference that the Mission makes for those on a path to recovery. I've been there, as at one point in my life I found myself living on Skid Row and had no hope. God told me to leave my cardboard box home and get help. I did, and it gave me the tools for long-term sobriety that truly saved my life. Since the day I left that program, I vowed to do everything I could to help others living on Skid Row experiencing the same ills I had overcome." 

Katie Cleary

President and Founder of Peace for Animals

"The biggest reward comes from seeing all of the animals that we have helped save over the years from heartbreaking situations, now thriving. It's about fighting the good fight to be a voice for our world's species that are in peril and need our help more than ever. I started my charity 10 years ago because I saw how many animals needed help around the world, specifically endangered species. One of the most impactful things that we can do is pass legislation to protect animals and holding companies and people accountable for their actions. I believe that we must enact stricter penalties and longer jail sentences for criminals who traffic and poach wildlife, that is the only way that these animals will have a future on earth."

Ben Higgins

Co-Founder and President of Generous Coffee Co.

"Generous donates 100 percent of our profits to non-profits or social causes around the world fighting human injustice. When I say injustice, it can range from lack of education, health care, opportunity, infrastructure or lack of anything that we as humans need to survive and then thrive in our modern times. The most rewarding part is being able to participate in a helpful and not hurtful way with the human stories of hope and empowerment around this world. We have an incredible team at Generous so being able to do this work with them is also a massive gift to my life, everyday."

Kiesha Nix

Vice President Charitable Affairs for Lakers Youth Foundation

"The most rewarding part of my job is being able to deliver resources and opportunities to so many deserving youth in our Los Angeles communities. Talking with them, encouraging them, listening to them and then seeing the smiles on their faces because they are Lakers fans and they know we are there for them! The Lakers Love spreads across multiple generations!"

(E! and NBC are part of the NBCUniversal family) 

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