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CNN focuses on Dimiceli

Sal Dimiceli waits as the CNN crew makes the final touches on the set at the Regional News for the main interview.

October 26, 2011 | 07:41 AM
For 12 hours a day, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, CNN film crews recorded almost everything Time Is Now To Help founder Sal Dimiceli did.

Cameras rolled and focused on him as he talked on the phone, as he chatted with a Regional News staff member and as he went out to homes to help a handful of people struggling through the effects of poverty.

Dimiceli is one of 10 CNN Heroes finalists from around the world. One will be chosen on Dec. 11 at the end of a special broadcast as the Hero of 2011 and will receive $250,000. The crew was in Lake Geneva filming what will result in a five-minute video to be aired that night along with the stories of the nine others.

The filmmakers spent a good amount of time at the Regional News office. They were in the building at 315 Broad St., on Tuesday for a couple hours and then returned on Wednesday for another few hours of filming, specifically Dimiceli's main interview.

"They loved the atmosphere there so much, they wanted to do it right there," Dimiceli said about using the Regional News building.

Dimiceli said it was fitting to do so much at the Regional News because of the newspaper's importance to the start of the networking for the Time is Now.

"When the crew first came, they had a question from the CNN board and it was how does this one guy accomplish helping 500 people per year," Dimiceli said. "I told them about the networking, the volunteers and getting the word out."

The Regional News first published Dimiceli's letters and also his fundraising efforts. But, that wasn't the only networking Dimiceli spoke about.

He also took the film crew to the W.C. Food Pantry to meet Jim and Ardith Drescher as well as Frank Guske and a number of other volunteers.

"They saw all of that," Dimiceli said.

They also filmed the despair and then the hope after Dimiceli and his network of friends and supporters helped the poverty-stricken.

During the filming, Dimiceli helped an elderly deaf couple, a quadriplegic, a single mother with cancer, a 79-year-old woman with no running water and holes in the floor of her home and a couple in need of a of a van to get around in.

In a couple of days, Dimiceli provided for their immediate needs. He said the CNN crew was amazed at how quickly his volunteers worked. CNN also was appreciative of the warm welcome the crews received, Dimiceli said.

One of the CNN crew members typically works for PBS's show Frontline. He helps out CNN for this project because he said he "gets to do a positive story."

Although he began to look more comfortable in front of the camera as the days went on, Dimiceli admitted he still has mixed emotions about the publicity.

"Half of me is overwhelmed," he said. "The other half thinks this is what I am supposed to be doing. I cannot help this whole situation by myself, we do it with all the supporters."

He knows one thing, the CNN crew understood his work by the end of the three days.

"At the conclusion of all this, they hugged me and couldn't believe all that we did," Dimiceli said.

On Friday, Dimiceli was back to work helping people, but there were no cameras around anymore. The crew had headed home earlier in the morning. Dimiceli is looking forward to Dec. 11 and seeing results of the voting and the filming.

"I want to thank everyone for networking and their support," Dimiceli said. "We are going to show the world how we can come together to create better lives for the poverty stricken by easing the pain of poverty for so many."

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