The New Jersey Devils honored Maggie Doyne Tuesday night following the New Jersey native’s selection as CNN’s 2015 Hero of the Year in November. The team recognized Doyne’s work with underprivileged children in Nepal by naming her Hero of the Game as the Devils faced the Colorado Avalanche.
During the second semester of a gap year program following high school, Doyne travelled to northeastern India, where she met refugees from the then-active Nepali Civil War. “I really wanted to get to the bottom of why children were fleeing their own country,” Doyne said. After traveling to Nepal in 2006 and seeing the poverty firsthand as a result of the war, Doyne set out to “build something that was a home, family based, and supported the kids through education.”
Using her life savings of $5,000 from years of babysitting in New Jersey, Doyne purchased land in the foothills of the Himalayas and established the Kopila Valley Children’s Home, which opened in 2007. “I thought I would start with five or six kids,” the 29-year-old said. “Now I’m the adoptive mom to 51 [kids.]”
Once the home was established, Doyne and her team built a school that now serves 400 students in Nepal. “Then we started a women’s center and a nutrition clinic…because we realized we have to tackle poverty from all angles at a community level.”
To support this mission, Doyne created the BlinkNow foundation in Morristown, N.J., which she says was “based on the idea that we can all change the world in the blink of an eye.” BlinkNow is a “small team” that raises awareness for topics involving children, education and the needs of orphans.
Before the year began, Doyne and her organization had been in the process of being vetted by CNN for “a very long time.” After being named top 10 finalist, she was selected by CNN’s audience as the Hero of the Year on November 17. Before Doyne returns to Nepal on December 14, CNN will air the November ceremony, including Doyne’s acceptance speech, on Saturday, December 6 at 8 p.m.
In addition to being recognized at The Rock as the Hero of the Game, Doyne received a personalized jersey from the team; a nice start to her first hockey game. Spending most of her time with her program in Nepal, Doyne said that without TV or electricity, she does not have the opportunity to follow professional sports.
“It’s a fun night to celebrate all of the success, but also to bring more awareness to this cause that is so important to all of us,” Doyne said.