http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/19/world/hero-of-the-year/index.html?hpt=hp_c2 (CNN) -- Chad Pregracke, an Illinois man who has dedicated his life to cleaning the Mississippi River and other U.S. waterways, was named the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year on Tuesday night. Pregracke organizes community cleanups across the country through his nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters. About 70,000 volunteers have pitched in, helping Pregracke collect more than 7 million pounds of trash in the past 15 years. "The garbage got into the water one piece at a time," Pregracke said earlier this year. "And that's the only way it's going to come out."........ Close to 90% of what they recover is recycled; Pregracke said the rest gets disposed of properly. In addition to the river cleanup, Pregracke has launched a floating classroom barge where his staff educates high school students and teachers about the damages of pollution on river ecosystems. In 2007, his nonprofit implemented a program to plant 1 million trees along river shorelines to protect and restore the natural environment. The group is halfway to its goal......more...... The other 9 candidates are listed at bottom.