Hero Turns Wine to Water

How do you go from pouring cosmos to providing clean water for people in impoverished countries? Ask Doc Hendley, a 2004 graduate of North Carolina State University, who has been named a CNN Hero for tapping into his bartending experience “to save thousands of lives on the other side of the world.’ He is founder and executive director of Wine to Water, an international faith-based organization in Boone that installs running water and sanitation systems in the neediest parts of the world.

Wine to Water raises funds by hosting benefit wine events, such as tastings, to support water projects around the world. To date, Hendley’s group has worked in five developing countries, including India, bringing safe drinking water to more than 25,000 individuals in refugee camps, orphanages, schools, hospitals and a leper colony, as well as directly into hundreds of homes through the installation of bio-sand filters. Wine to Water is also building two training centers in northern Uganda to teach locals how to access clean water without having to rely on foreign aid.

This is CNN’s third global search for ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary deeds. Hendley was chosen as one of the top 10 heroes of 2009 from among 3,700 nominations by a panel of world leaders and luminaries recognized for their own dedication to public service including Gen. Colin Powell, Whoopi Goldberg and Sir Elton John . People can vote for CNN’s Hero of the Year on its Web site (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/) from now until Thursday, Nov. 19.

There will be a rally on the NC State brickyard at noon on Thursday, Nov. 5, to celebrate Hendley’s honor. Hendley will be at the event, which will also include Chancellor James Woodward.

“Water is by far the most important resource to life on our planet. Sadly it is also a resource that acts as a breeding ground for diseases that kill far more children than any other disease,’ Hendley says. “I am so grateful for the recent exposure to our work from CNN, and also from my own alma mater NC State. In the end, the more people that get excited about our work, the more lives we will all be able to save. Thank you NC State for your support!’

CNN will announce the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year and honor the Top 10 CNN Heroes in a star-studded gala celebration, “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

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