A San Diego County-based veterinarian who volunteers time, money and medicine to treat the pets of the homeless has been tapped as CNN’s 2023 Hero of the Year.
Dr. Kwane Stewart’s selection by online voters was announced Sunday evening during a live show broadcast from New York on CNN.
Stewart is the founder of Project Street Vet, through which he and other veterinarians take to the streets to treat the pets of homeless people. It began quietly, one man’s secret mission in the poorest parts of California towns. It now has veterinarians volunteering in cities from San Diego and Los Angeles to Orlando, Atlanta and Washington, DC.
As he was getting ready to go home on Monday, Stewart said via text that it had been “an incredible, emotional and humbling weekend.” He also said that the win “(h)hasn’t sunk in yet. Still waiting for the adrenaline to wear off.
The win comes with a $100,000 donation toward Project Street Weight — though During your acceptance speechStewart surprised the nine other finalists with an offer to share it.
“This portion was definitely not planned but $100,000 – I want to celebrate with all of you. It’s pretty evenly split 10 ways. That’s my contribution to all of us,” Stewart said. said
The veterinarian shared with the audience the story of treating a homeless man’s dog recently, and the man mentioned that he himself hadn’t eaten in two days. Stewart returned with sandwiches – one for himself, one for the man.
“He tore off a corner of it, and he gave the rest to his dog,” Stewart said. He paused, emotional. “They’ve taught me a lot, too.”
Project Street Vet traces its roots to a 2011 encounter Stewart had years ago outside a Central Valley convenience store, when a veterinarian saw a homeless man and a dog suffering from severe flea infestations. . Stewart checked on the dog then returned the next day with $3 worth of medicine to treat him.
Within 10 days, the dog was “transformed.” The dog’s crying owner thanked Stewart for not ignoring him. And Stewart has said he knew then that he would continue to help homeless people’s pets.
For years afterward, Stewart spent his time walking the streets, treating pets, paying for medications and hospitals out of pocket, all while paying off student loans. He worked a lot on Skid Row in Los Angeles.
In 2015, he moved to San Diego County and continues to work in both regions. In 2020, he founded Project Street Vet as a non-profit charity.
A special one GoFundMe account CNN Heroes was established to benefit Stewart’s nonprofit in partnership with the Elevate Prize Foundation, and GoFundMe. Elevate said it will match donations of up to $50,000 per hero for all of the top 10 CNN Heroes in 2023. Stewart’s nonprofit had topped $110,000 in donations as of Monday afternoon.