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Charitable veterinarian named CNN’s 2023 Hero of the Year

News
Article
Long Beach, California convention center

Known as "The Street Vet," Kwane Stewart, DVM, has a passion for providing care to pets living with homeless individuals

Kwane Steward, DVM, the 2023 CNN Hero of the Year

Kwane Steward, DVM, was named the 2023 CNN Hero of the Year on December 10, 2023. (Image courtesy of CNN)

Kwane Stewart, DVM, a medical care provider for underserved pets, has been named the 2023 CNN Hero of the Year. The founder of the nonprofit organization, Project Street Vet, was chosen by viewers of the news network, who voted online from among the Top 10 CNN Heroes announced in November.1,2

Stewart was presented the award on Sunday, December 10, by CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Laura Coates during the 17th annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute event. Held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, New York, the event was broadcast across the globe.1

In his acceptance speech, Stewart noted that he had wanted to be a veterinarian his entire life. “If I, as a child, could dream of doing something that was impactful, then I think I found it, found me. I’m do lucky to be doing what I’m doing,” he said, before thanking individuals who have helped and supported his mission.2

Star of the 2019 reality television show The Street Vet, Stewart began his work caring for the pets of individuals experiencing homelessness after noticing an animal’s need for medical attention while he was visiting a convenience store in California. He asked the pet owner if he could examine the animal, which had signs of a flea infestation. After treating the pet, Stewart decided he was going to give back to his community by providing free veterinary care for the underserved population of pets living on the streets.3

The Street Vet

Kwane Stewart, DVM, treats a pet in need of medical care with help from an assistant during his rounds as "The Street Vet."

While accepting the award, Stewart shared with the audience a short story about a man whose pet he had treated. The man was hungry, so Stewart brought him a sandwich. Most of the sandwich was then given to the dog as the man sacrificed his meal for his pet. “They’ve taught me a lot,” said Stewart of the individuals he has helped on the streets. “An act of kindness can change your day. An act or gesture of kindness can change someone’s life.”2

The CNN Hero of the Year title was awarded with a $100,000 grant to help him grow his work, and all of those named to the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2023 are receiving a $10,000 cash award.1,2 These heroes include Yasmine Arrington, who works with teenagers with incarcerated parents; Stacey Buckner, who provides for the needs of homeless veterans; and Mama Shu, who created a nonprofit organization that transforms derelict structures for community use as well as Tescha Hawley, Osei Boateng, Alvin Irby, Adam Pearce, Estefanía Rebellón, and Mike Goldberg, who have all created positive changes in the world.4

In his acceptance speech, Stewart also said he would share the $100,000 grant equally with his fellow Top 10 Heroes. “What does it mean to be human? I believe it’s humanity. It’s looking out for each other. Believing in each other. Helping one another. And all of these people embody that,” he said.2

The Hero of the Year title made Stewart an Elevate Prize winner. He is receiving an unrestricted $300,000 in funds and resources from The Elevate Prize Foundation, a global nonprofit organization. Additionally, all of those named to the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2023, including Stewart, will receive from The Elevate Prize Foundation up to $50,000 in donation-matching funds collected through January 5, 2024.1,2

Stewart’s work has included service as a Fear Free advisor and ambassador, the national director for American Humane’s No Animals Were Harmed initiative, and as a veterinary consultant on the set of television and movie productions. These roles came with responsibility to keep safe the animals on sets as well as humans working with them. “Creatively, these directors have sometimes wild visions... and I’m the person who comes in and says, ‘No, that’s, that’s not really possible. Then we sort of work out what we can do to meet the creative vision, while keeping the animal safe,” said Stewart, in an interview with dvm360.5,6

A public speaker, Stewart’s schedule of upcoming appearances includes the Fetch dvm360 conference in Long Beach, California, next year. He will be a featured keynote speaker on December 7, 2024, discussing self-care for veterinarians.

During the CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, Stewart’s recognition shared the stage with the first CNN Heroes Legacy Award, which was presented to former President Jimmy Carter and the late First Lady Rosalynn Carter. The legacy award was given in honor of the couple’s lifetime commitment to community service, according to CNN.2

The live event also featured Grammy Award-nominated singer Aloe Blacc, who performed his anthem, “My Way.” Among the evening’s presenters were actors and entertainers Amanda Seyfried, Brooke Shields, Rachel Zegler, Martin Sheen, Edie Falco, Sterling K. Brown,Iman Vellani, Jeffrey Wright, Joe Manganiello, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Alexa Swinton and Danielle Brooks.2

References

  1. Dr. Kwane Stewart named 2023 CNN Hero of the Year. News release. CNN. December 10, 2023. Accessed December 11, 2023. https://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2023/12/10/dr-kwane-stewart-named-2023-cnn-hero-of-the-year/
  2. Dr. Kwane Stewart, who cares for the pets of those experiencing homelessness, is CNN’s Hero of the Year. CNN. December 11, 2023. Accessed December 11, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/12/10/world/cnn-hero-of-the-year-dr-kwane-stewart-homeless-pets/index.html
  3. McCafferty C, Burke J. Fetch faculty After Hours. dvm360. August 22, 2023. Accessed December 11, 2023. https://www.dvm360.com/view/fetch-faculty-after-hours-
  4. Dunn M, Klairmont L, Toner K, Torgan A. Meet the people who are making the world a better place. CNN. November 1, 2023. Accessed December 11, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/01/world/cnn-heroes-top-10-2023/index.html
  5. Fear Free appoints new chief professional relations veterinary officer. October 5, 2022. Accessed December 11, 2023. https://www.dvm360.com/view/fear-free-appoints-new-chief-veterinary-professional-relations-officer
  6. McCafferty C. The vet on set. dvm360. August 27, 2022. Accessed December 11, 2023. https://www.dvm360.com/view/the-vet-on-set
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