Cavanaugh Bell was invited to the inauguration after helping those in need amid the pandemic

By Virginia Chamlee
January 20, 2021 04:57 PM
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Celebrities aren't the only stars lighting up Wednesday's unprecedented pandemic-era inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Heroes helping their fellow Americans through this COVID-19 crisis are also in the spotlight, including 8-year-old Cavanaugh Bell, who organized and gathered truckloads of supplies for those in need.

Bell will introduce Justin Timberlake during the Wednesday night prime-time TV special, Celebrating America, hosted by Tom Hanks. Replacing the traditional inaugural balls out of concern for mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus, the broadcast is "capstone" to full day of socially-distanced inauguration events (complete with face masks)—including morning prayer, the swearing-in at the Capitol, a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, and a virtual parade. Inaugural-committee planners said the TV special would "showcase the American people's resilience, heroism, and unified commitment to coming together" after the challenges of the past year.

Bell, who will introduce Timberlake's, performance of "Better Days" with Ant Clemons, recently told the Today show that he was "incredibly excited" by the opportunity, which he called an "honor."

The Maryland boy spent the past several months delivering trailers full of COVID-19 supplies to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, considered to be one of the poorest places in America.

"All I thought I was going to be able to do was inspire about 100 people or 50," Bell told People (the TV Show!) this week. "But it went on to be this big because I have a whole non-profit and just being on the inauguration now, I was just hoping for the best and the best happened."

Cavanaugh Bell (left) and Justin Timberlake
| Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty

Bell previously told People (the TV Show!) that he first learned about Pine Ridge after passing through the area on a road trip back from Colorado in 2018 with his mother.

"We were driving for miles and miles and there was a straight-up nothing," Bell, who is part Native American, said. "I was like, 'Well, maybe we should do something for them since they're in the middle of nowhere.' "

The young activist — who also founded his own nonprofit organization, Cool & Dope, to combat bullying and spread positivity — said he was "just happy" to get chosen to appear in the inauguration special, and that he hopes "to inspire both sides, Democrats and Republicans."

Bell also shared that he recently spoke with Vice President Harris, calling her someone who "is always helping our country and community. ... Spreading positivity is what we need in this world."

Though this might be Bell's first foray into the world of politics, it may not be his last.

In his interview with People (the TV Show!), he said he does have ambitions to hold office one day. 

"I just want to be mayor because I feel like a mayor can do more things," he said.

The special will include performances from a range of musical acts such as Jon Bon Jovi and Demi Lovato, and include speeches by both Biden and Harris.

The 90-minute Celebrating America program will air on Jan. 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NBC as well as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and other streaming platforms.

Catch People (the TV Show!) Monday through Friday. Check your local listings for exact times or stream the show every day at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT at People.com and PeopleTV.com.