Chad Pregracke, an Illinois man who has dedicated his life to cleaning the Mississippi River and other U.S. waterways, is the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year.
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."