Escobar Named One of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012

Catalina Escobar is being heralded for as a hero her extraordinary efforts to help the underprivileged in Colombia…

The Colombian woman, a wife and mother of two children, has been revealed as one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012, an honor that comes with a $50,000 prize and a chance to win more.

Catalina Escobar

Escobar, a professional and entrepreneur, is being recognized for her dedication to saving and improving the lives of the most impoverished children and their young mothers in Cartagena, Colombia.

In 2001, the successful businesswoman sold her international trading company to create what would become her passion and the greatest project of her life: The Juan Felipe Gómez Escobar Foundation, after living two tragic and painful experiences in the year 2000, including the death of her second son, 16-month-old Juan Felipe, who died in a tragic accident when he fell from the balcony of her home.

“It was agony,” said Escobar. “I didn’t want any mother to feel the same pain, so … I took action.”

In the last 10 years, her foundation — named for her late son — has brought health care to tens of thousands of children in Cartagena and provided more than 2,000 teenage mothers with counseling, education and job training.

“When a girl gets pregnant, she drops out of school … Next year, she’s going to be pregnant again,” explains Escobar to CNN. “She’s repeating the same patterns of the mother, the grandmother … I want my girls to be empowered. Earning money provides them with independence and allows them to gain back control of their lives.”

Escobar and her fellow Top 10 honorees were nominated by CNN‘s global audience and profiled earlier this year on CNN. They will be honored at CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, a globally broadcast event that airs live on December 2 at 9:00 pm ET.

At the tribute, hosted by Anderson Cooper, one of the top 10 will be named CNN Hero of the Year and receive an additional $250,000 to continue their work.

The Hero of the Year is decided by a public vote. Through November 28, you can vote for your favorite Hero at or from your mobile device.

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