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CNN Hero of the Year to speak at Heritage Foundation breakfast

The Heritage Foundation of Franklin/Williamson County announced this week that the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year, Chad Pregracke, will speak at an 8:30 a.m. breakfast on March 7 at the Franklin Theatre. 
Pregracke, who has become known as “The Rivers’ Garbageman,” will speak about his quest to clean up the nation’s waterways.
What began as a one-man effort 15 years ago has grown to become the nonprofit called Living Land & Waters. 
Along the journey, he has recruited more than 70,000 volunteers, who have removed about seven million pounds of debris from 23 rivers and streams throughout the nation. 
That includes 67,000 tires, 218 washing machines, 19 tractors, 12 hot tubs, 1,000 refrigerators and four pianos. 
Chad Pregracke will be the featured guest speaker for the Heritage Foundation of Franklin/Williamson County next year. Pregracke was honored as CNN’s Here of the Year for 2013. Photo courtesy of 
Pregracke spends nine-months of the year living on a barge with a 12-member crew organizing community river and riverside cleanups retrieving garbage one piece at a time—”the way it got there.”
Pregracke grew up along the Mississippi River, but it was when he was a teen working as a commercial shell diver that debris in the Mississippi caught his attention and inspired him to seek a small grant from Alcoa in 1997. 
That allowed him to spend the summer cleaning a 35-mile stretch of his much-loved Mississippi River—he pulled out more than 45,000 pounds of trash.
To date his nonprofit and a flotilla of volunteers who show up to help, have held more than 700 cleanups. 
“Ann Johnson threw out the idea of inviting the CNN Hero of the Year to Franklin,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation. “To do river walks along the Harpeth River we have to appreciate how to keep the river sustainable. We look forward to partnering with other organizations to have the opportunity to hear Chad.”

Posted on: 12/19/2013


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