WUSA9's People of the Year 2017

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As the year comes to an end, WUSA9 is taking a moment to look back at people who have made an impact this year, for better or for worse. These are WUSA9's People of the Year.

9. Teen with heart condition given a chance to play football

A dream of playing football became a reality for 13-year-old Jared Alula of Maryland. He has down syndrome and heart condition and has been in and out of hospitals his entire childhood. Alula got the chance to play in 2017, inspiring many people with his story. 

8. Parents carry on slain son's legacy

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Darryl Hairston II has killed in the shooting in Prince George's County more than a year ago. His parents remember it like it was yesterday. After their son's murder, they decided to carry on his legacy, founding the Darryl Hairston II Foundation. Through the foundation, The family mentors young people help other victim’s families, and advocates for stronger laws.
 

7. Paul Wiedefeld, WMATA's General Manager, Metro improve over the last year

Wiedefeld made the 'Person of the Year' list because of the tremendous efforts made to improve the metro over the last year. In 2016, the Metrorail underwent an unprecedented shutdown, inconveniencing many people. That prompted SafeTrack, a year-long effort to repair the trains. One year later, metro transformed, with a laundry list of improvements. 

6.) Man recreates Forrest Gump's epic run across America

Rob Pope went on an exciting journey across America in 2017. The champion marathoner recreated Forrest Gump's epic run across the country. Thousands of people followed his route as he ran from state-to-state, including our Adam Longo, who caught up with him for an interview. 

5. Army veteran Chris Chavez brings awareness to PTSD

So many veterans combat the invisible wounds of war, including Army veteran Chris Chavez. Chavez helped bring awareness to PTSD in 2017. He was willing to wear a heart monitor strapped to his chest. He even allowed WUSA9 to take him to places, where he has the most anxiety, showing the physical and emotional impact of these environments on Chavez, and so many people like him.

4. Woman with cerebral palsy trains for marathon

Jamie Watts from Arlington is known for running 5k and 10k races all over town. She is also known for her inspirational story.  She has cerebral palsy and has ever let her disability stop her. In 2017, she started training for the New Jersey Marathon, proving she truly has no limits.

3. D.C. activist's school faces diminished threat from Syria chemical attack

D.C. activist Mouaz Moustafa made a significant impact in 2017. Moustafa founded a school for Syrian orphans in Idlib Province, where a chemical attack took place in April. The school helped keep 130 children safe.

2. #MeToo: Military rape victims speak out

The #MeToo movement exploded in 2017. Thousands of people from around the world used the #MeToo hashtag to indicate that they'd been sexually harassed or assaulted, some people even shared detailed accounts of their experiences. In the wake of the movement, three female veterans came forward, speaking exclusively to WUSA9 about their experiences on a hard topic: military rape. 

1. Danica Roem becomes Virginia's first openly transgender delegate 

This year, Danica Roem, a former journalist, broke barriers when she unseated one of Virginia's most socially conservative lawmakers and became the first openly transgender member of the House of Delegates.