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CNN Hero: Oregon Grandmother Addresses Silent Killer

When Nancy Hughes was volunteering for a medical mission in Guatemala she saw doctors trying to repair lives devastated by the effects of traditional cooking methods. Infants who could not breathe and children with debilitating burns convinced Nancy to dedicate herself to preventing rather than repairing these life-threatening injuries and diseases.

This 70-year-old grandmother from Eugene, Ore., is showing that it's never too late to make a difference.She has been recognized as a "CNN Hero" for founding StoveTeam International, an organization helping local people start factories to replace dangerous open fires with a fuel-efficient cookstove.

Cookstove smoke kills one person every sixteen seconds as half the world's population still cooks by burning wood, animal and agricultural waste and coal in open fires or rudimentary stoves. Those smoky fires are the leading cause of death of children under age five.

Nancy's incredible energy, passion and ability have inspired five year old StoveTeam to help build six factories in five countries helping 280,000 people live healthier lives and improving local ecology and economies.

These stove factories have employed more than 45 individuals and produced and sold over 37,000 portable safe, efficient stoves, protecting the lives of over 280,000 people. This year, StoveTeam is working to start four more factories, three in Mexico and one in Colombia. This effort will continue to bring better health conditions in homes, help the environment, and provide local employment.

The CNN Hero award Nancy received recognizes the way individuals can make a difference at any age. Please visit


StoveTeam International is a nonprofit organization based in Eugene, Oregon that saves lives and forests in developing countries by replacing open cooking fires with safe cookstoves. Founded in 2008, StoveTeam helps entrepreneurs establish their own businesses to make the stoves Nancy helped design. Learn more by visiting


CNN Heroes is a year-long initiative that honors everyday people for their selfless, creative efforts to help others. The campaign is now in its seventh year.

All CNN Heroes are selected from viewer nominations submitted at Last year, more than 10,000 nominations were received from 100 countries.

Each week, a CNN Hero is profiled on the global networks of CNN and on In September, the Top 10 CNN Heroes will be announced. From the Top 10, viewers select the CNN Hero of the Year via online voting.

The CNN Hero of the Year will be revealed during "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," airing Thanksgiving night, November 28th, 2013.

Each of the top 10 receives $50,000. The Hero of the Year receives an additional $250,000.

In its six years, CNN Heroes has received more than 45, 000 nominations from more than 100 countries. Since 2007, the campaign has profiled nearly 200 CNN Heroes. They are working in 77 countries around the world, helping hundreds of thousands of people. Nancy Sanford Hughes is its most recent award recipient.

For more information about the CNN Heroes campaign, current Heroes or to nominate a hero, go to Follow CNN Heroes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Nominations for 2013 are accepted through August 31, 2013.


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