Nick Cannon surprises North Philly teen with award, $10,000

SCOTT GRIES / NICKELODEON Nick Cannon (right) surprises Denzel Thompson with a $10,000 TeenNick HALO Award.
SCOTT GRIES / NICKELODEON Nick Cannon (right) surprises Denzel Thompson with a $10,000 TeenNick HALO Award. (surprises Denzel Thompson with a $10,000 TeenNick HALO Award.)
Posted: October 02, 2013

DENZEL AUSTIN Thompson thought a camera crew was following him around for a documentary called "Outstanding Teens" yesterday.

That is until Nick Cannon showed up.

"Honestly, I felt like falling down," Thompson, the co-founder of urban-farming program the Philadelphia Urban Creators, said about seeing Cannon, the host of "America's Got Talent" and Mr.  Mariah Carey, roll up in a golf cart.

Cannon was at Thompson's urban farm at 11th and Arizona to tell the Agora Cyber Charter School student that he is a recipient of a TeenNick HALO Award, given to teenagers who do exceptional things for their community. Along with appearing at the awards ceremony, a HALO comes with $10,000 and a date with a celebrity mentor. (Although past mentors have included Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys, Thompson's hasn't been decided yet, but he says he'll be happy with whomever he's paired with.)

Thompson is the first recipient from Philly.

"Award shows are a bunch of celebrities kissing each other's butts. It's about superficiality," Cannon told me while waiting in a BMW van to surprise Thompson. "This one isn't."

He added before getting in front of the camera, "I've got to calm down. It's exciting knowing you're going to change people's lives."

Thompson started urban farming in an after-school program. He eventually lost 150 pounds due to his newfound eating habits and ability to get fresh food. So he wanted to help others.

Thompson said that the now-beautified lot he uses at 11th and Arizona was a "North Philadelphia garbage site" before he started working with the community to clean it up. "It took two to three years to clear the whole plot of land," Thompson said. "We didn't have any money to start with, but you don't always have to depend on money to do something this great and positive. I wanted to show people you can just do it in your back yard or on your windowsill."

The 19-year-old, who is eyeing Temple University for his post-high-school plans, doesn't want to stop at Philly. He plans to use his award money to expand the project nationally.

The TeenNick HALO Awards will be broadcast in November on Nick at Nite.

Mo Mo Mo

Former "Daily Show" correspondent Mo Rocca visited Lansdale to cook with 94-year-old Clara Corrado for his Cooking Channel show "My Grandma's Ravioli," in which he travels around the country finding out the secrets of grandparents from across the country. "She is a 94-year-old, 4-foot-9 bundle of dynamite, a real spitfire," Rocca told me.

Corrado dedicated her episode - featuring Italian wedding soup, chicken soup, a ham pie with rigot and eggs and pizelles - to her triplet grandsons who are in the Air Force. "These triplets are my pride and joy!" said Corrado, who grew up in Nicetown. "They're the loves of my life."

Corrado's episode airs tonight at 8.

'Project' ballet

"Project Runway" top-five contestant Dom Streater, who won last week's challenge, will judge her alma mater Moore College of Art & Design's Jump/Start Fashion Show tonight at 6 at the college (1916 Race St.). The show celebrates the Pennsylvania Ballet's 50th anniversary by incorporating tulle (think tutus!) into its designs. The show is free and open to the public. Bring donations for the Career Wardrobe (gently used office attire) to the event while you're at it.

Think Pink

For the 12th year in a row, CBS3 and Susan G. Komen Philadelphia are teaming up to turn the skyline pink to honor National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. About 35 buildings in the city will turn rosy tonight, while Atlantic City joins in on Friday.

The station will also hold events throughout the month commemorating breast-cancer awareness, including the Komen Philadelphia Pink Tie Ball hosted by Jessica Dean, Pat Ciarrocchi, Kathy Orr, Erika von Tiehl, Nicole Brewer and Lesley Van Arsdall on Oct. 12.


Email: eichelm@phillynews.com

Twitter: @PhillyGossipDN

Online: ph.ly/DNGossip

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