As we put a bow on the year 2017, it's time to take a look back at some of the people who made 2017 such a special year in our area.
Based largely on your hits here at WKYC.com, we have put together a list (in no particular order) of five Clevelanders who made a difference in 2017.
1. Bishop Nelson Perez
On September 5, Nelson Perez became the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland and the first of Latin descent. With immigration a red-hot topic in American culture this year, Bishop Perez began his installation by praising the area's diversity.
“You come here from many countries, each with the beauty of your language and culture,” he said.
He also said he wants a church that takes initiative to meet people “where they are” and that he looks forward to connecting with young people.
Perez talked more about his vision for the diocese during a one-on-one interview with WKYC's Russ Mitchell. Click here to watch.
2. LeBron James
A year ago when James was on this list, it was mostly because he spearheaded the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first-ever NBA championship. It was the city's first major sports title in 52 years.
He would have deserved being here for 2017 for his athletic achievements again, driving the Cavs to another trip to the NBA Finals while playing some of the best basketball of his career.
But it was his work off the court that we salute 'The King' this year.
On November 28, the Akron City School Board unanimously approved the creation of the "I PROMISE" school. It will be a STEM, hands-on, problem-based learning focus with the LeBron James Family Foundation's ’We Are Family’ philosophy to create a complete wraparound for its students and their families.
"Being able to create this school to specifically meet the needs of these kids and their families means everything to me," James said in a statement. "There are so many kids and families struggling, and we want this school to be a safe, positive place that helps them stay on the right track to earning their educations."
The school is slated to open in 2018.
In addition, the first class of the LJFF 'I Promise' students are now in high school. If the students meet a certain set of requirements and graduate from Akron Public Schools, they will be among the first students to receive a scholarship to the University of Akron.
3. The team of investigators, and an alert McDonald's employee, who helped track Steve Stephens
The attention of the entire nation was focused on Cleveland on Easter Sunday, after Robert Godwin, Sr. was shot and killed on E. 93rd Street. Video of his death was posted to Facebook by his killer, Steve Stephens, and a manhunt was underway.
As investigators searched for leads for two days in Ohio and Pennsylvania, a McDonald's employee in Erie, Pa, recognized Stephens and stalled him for time as another employee called 911. Pennsylvania State Troopers were able to track down Stephens, who shot himself in the head rather than surrender.
We salute all of the brave law enforcement officers who keep us safe, and we thank the anonymous employee at McDonalds for his heads-up work.
4. Jasmin Santana
Much of the focus of Election Night in November was centered around the race for Cleveland mayor, as Frank Jackson was elected to an unprecedented fourth 4-year term by beating Zack Reed.
There was more history made on that night.
38-year-old Jasmin Santana became Cleveland's first Hispanic female city council member, defeating incumbent Brian Cummins in Ward 14.
Santana told our Carly Flynn Morgan that her victory was 'historic,' and she is striving to bring hope and unity to the community.
"It's going to mean a lot to our Latino community, because there's no Latino elected officials county-wide. So, it's going to mean a voice, representation in City Hall, being able to kind of educate City Hall with the issues that are affecting our community first hand," said Santana.
When asked what she wants to fix once she takes office, Santana said: "The health and the safety of our families, improve communication, the engagement and bringing our community together."
5. The "Riders on the Storm"
Over the course of several months in 2017, Channel 3 News embedded our crews with ambulance companies in small towns across Northeast Ohio to get as close as possible to the people living, and dying, in the opioid epidemic.
WKYC visited the city of Warren to ride along with Med Star ambulance crews on Sept. 20. Within 90 minutes of our arrival, we saw one overdose, a man named Tyler, who overdosed in the driver's seat of a car in a Rite Aid parking lot. The day before, Med Star responded to 21 overdoses in a 24-hour span. They logged 69 by the end of that week.
In the month of August, LifeCare in Lorain County responded to at least 72 overdose calls.
While state and federal government try to figure out serious solutions to the epidemic, there are men and women on the front lines who should not be forgotten.