CNN Hero of the Year Chad Pregracke, elected by CNN viewers for cleaning 7 million tons of trash out of the Mississippi River, is kicking off Keep Tennessee Beautiful month with a public event at the Franklin Theatre March 7. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will be among those participating in the morning event on Franklin’s Main Street.
The public is invited to the breakfast event from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Franklin Theatre for $10 per person. Tickets are on sale now at www.franklintheatre.com for the March 7 event. His appearance is sponsored by Keep Tennessee Beautiful and the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County and supported by several additional community groups interested in making the Harpeth River more of a community asset.
“Chad is proof that one person can make a difference. His passion and dedication have motivated countless others, including myself, to get involved. TDOT was proud to join him for the massive clean-up effort on the Mississippi River,” said John Schroer, honorary chairman of the event, former Mayor of Franklin and Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation. “He is truly a hero, and we thank him for helping us bring positive change to communities across Tennessee.”
Keep Tennessee Beautiful is the primary sponsor of Pregracke’s appearance. March is “Keep Tennessee Beautiful” month and this event will help kick it off, according to KTNB Executive Director Missy Marshall.
“Keep Tennessee Beautiful is looking forward to bringing this international hero to the Franklin Theatre,” Marshall said. “His success can be applied to every other waterway in Tennessee, and we invite anyone interested to come to this presentation and be motivated to join the cause.”
Pregracke received the CNN honor for generating more than 700 clean-up days along the Mississippi River through his nonprofit organization known as Living Lands and Waters. He’s organized more than 70,000 volunteers to pick up 7 million tons of trash, 90% of which has been recycled.
In December 2013, he was nominated and awarded Hero of the Year by CNN viewers over a five-week voting process, but immediately took some of his $250,000 in winnings and dispersed $10,000 each to the other nine finalists for the award. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper said that had never happened in the history of the Hero of the Year Award.
Tickets to the event include a light breakfast with doors opening at 7 a.m., and the program is expected to last from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Waste Management is underwriting the complementary breakfast served in the theater lobby and several local organizations, including Franklin Tomorrow, Keep Williamson Beautiful and the Harpeth River Watershed Association, will be in the lobby with information about their efforts and opportunities to get involved.
To purchase tickets to the event, go to www.franklintheatre.com.