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2012's Most Intriguing People; U.K. Boy with Down Syndrome Featured in Ad

Aired December 24, 2012 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: It is the bottom of the hour. I'm Hala Gorani, in for Brooke Baldwin.

You helped us pick the most intriguing people of 2012. The results are in. And they include headliners in politics, sports, business and entertainment.

Here is Brooke with the top 10.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Earlier this month, CNN.com readers cast ballots from our list. Narrowing it down to 10. Are you ready for the results? Here we go.

The top 10 most intriguing people of 2012.

Number 10: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The United States Supreme Court in a major decision, a 5-4 decision, upholds the president's health care reform law.

BALDWIN: You could have imagined the deciding vote was cast by the chief justice himself. Conservatives stunned. Liberals perplexed but thrilled. Forging ahead, the Roberts court takes on same-sex marriage.

Number nine: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer. At 37, head of a major tech company, a CEO in a male-dominated field, pregnant. It's the baby part that became problematic, shall we say, when Meyer decided to take just a couple of weeks for maternity leave. The mommy blogosphere went nuts. Sure, she could be woman in charge, but what message was she sending by not staying home longer with her baby?

Number eight: South Korean rapper Psy.

(MUSIC)

BALDWIN: Say what you want, his lasso inspired dance style first discovered on YouTube had everyone going Gangnam. And we mean everyone.

ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: The lasso again and then the horseback. BALDWIN: Psy was riding high in 2012, star performer in the most watched YouTube video of all time.

(MUSIC)

BALDWIN: Number seven: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This election is over, but our principles endure.

BALDWIN: Romney ran on his impressive business credentials, but it was his multiple gaffes during the campaign that analysts say helped seal his fate. Remember the 47 percent comments?

ROMNEY: The 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government --

BALDWIN: Oh. And this one --

ROMNEY: Binders full of women.

BALDWIN: Number six: ex-CIA director, General David Petraeus.

Have some breaking news now coming in regarding the chief of the CIA, General David Petraeus.

REPORTER: General Petraeus, can you talk with us, please?

BALDWIN: The news was unexpected. The reason, shocking. Petraeus, a retired four-star general, had quit his CIA post and admitted he had cheated on his wife.

Petraeus' mistress was also his biographer, Paula Broadwell -- an embarrassing exit from the public stage by one of the most respected public servants of his time.

BALDWIN: Number five: super jumper Felix Baumgartner. Let's face it -- he did what no human has ever done, diving 24 miles from the edge of space, breaking the sound barrier along the way.

FELIX BAUMGARTNER, STRATOSPHERE JUMPER: I'm still the same guy, but as soon as you start traveling, people do recognize my face.

I was scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were scared?

BAUMGARTNER: I was a little bit scared.

BALDWIN: Number four: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The shore and the boardwalk in Seaside Heights of my childhood no longer exist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for everything. BALDWIN: The rough and tumble governor took charge when a super storm named Sandy ravaged his state days before the presidential election. A Romney backer, suddenly Christie was standing arm in arm with the president, praising Mr. Obama's leadership as they toured Sandy's wrath.

CHRISTIE: When you know you have responsibility for those folks, you could give a damn about the politics of things. I could care less today.

BALDWIN: Number three: Olympian Gabby Douglas.

ANNOUNCER: Gabby Douglas!

BALDWIN: One of the fab five of the London Games, she captured our hearts, becoming the first African-American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all around and team competitions at the same Olympics.

GABBY DOUGLAS, U.S. OLYMPIC CHAMPION: I wanted to inspire a nation, and the whole point about this is inspire a generation. And I love that.

BALDWIN: She did just that.

Number two: school age activist Malala Yousafzai. Malala rose to fame blogging about the brutality of her life in Pakistan under Taliban rule. Not yet a teenager, she dared to suggest girls not only deserve but have a right to an education.

MALALA YOUSAFZAI, PAKISTANI TEEN ACTIVIST: I will get my education if it is in home, school or any place.

BALDWIN: The Taliban retaliated, hunting her down, shooting her in the neck and back. The attack outraged even hardened Pakistani. And all around the world Malala quickly became an international symbol of good against evil. Today, she is recovering in England.

Number one: President Barack Obama.

(CHEERS)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, you voted for action. Not politics as usual.

BALDWIN: After a long -- and we mean long -- and bitter campaign, President Obama won re-election. In 2012, the president also won the Supreme Court's stamp of approval for his health care reform program and made history with this statement.

OBAMA: I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

BALDWIN: As 2012 comes to a close, the president joined in grief with a community shocked by senseless violence.

OBAMA: These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. BALDWIN: Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Well, to see the entire list or read more about the winners you chose, check out CNN.com.

It's a Christmas ad first in Britain. Find out why so many people are making a big deal about this television commercial. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIRST SGT. STACI HARRISON, U.S. ARMY: I'm First Sergeant Staci Harrison from Hanover, Maryland, serving with the Task Force Med A in Bagram, Afghanistan. And I would like to say merry Christmas to my family, my husband Cornelius, my daughters Janae and Javon (ph). I love you. Merry Christmas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. (J.G.) CAROLYN ACOSTA, U.S. NAVY: Hi. I'm Lieutenant (J.G.) Carolyn Acosta from Kandahar, Afghanistan. I just want to wish my mom and dad, Larry and Pilar, and our beautiful children Lorenzo and Melina a merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad, maligayang pasko and (INAUDIBLE). I miss you and I love you guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: The southwest U.K. is getting hammered with rain, causing travel nightmares. Look at these rushing floodwaters in Devon, England, for instance. The drenching rain is causing massive travel concerns and headaches. Roads and rail lines washed over. Britain's lined up sandbags on the weekend and now officials are warning people about even trying to get out on the roads. Parts of Wales and Scotland are also getting flooded.

Now, Christmas ad campaign in England is getting a lot of attention. Atika Shubert talks to the mother of a little boy who is winning hearts and changing mindsets along the way across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Marks & Spencer's Christmas ad is out and 5-year-old Sed White is a happy bouncing blur across the screen. In fact, you might have to rewind and pause just to see him, but that one shining moment grinning ear to ear is just where his mother wants him.

CAROLINE WHITE, MOTHER: They created an ad where he is just an equal, he's not singled out or labeled. I think that's why it's been so successful. SEB WHITE, 5-YEAR-OLD: Come on. You can do it.

SHUBERT: Seb is the first child with Down syndrome to be featured in a major brand's ad campaign in Britain. His mother Caroline got the idea while shopping with Seb and his brother Dominick at British retailer Marks & Spencer's.

C. WHITE: I happened to be at Marks & Spencer's and I saw the back to school campaign and I just felt really passionate that he should be represented because he started school this year, the same as every other child and, you know, it was a really exciting day for us. So, I contacted M&S on their Facebook page and the response was phenomenal and within a week we had a call.

When Seb was born, we didn't know he had Down syndrome until afterwards. And it was a really big shock. And at the time, we were devastated. And -- but I now realize that the reason I was so devastated was because I had such an outdated view on the condition.

And over time, as I fell in love with Seb and saw the effect he had on people around him, he started to change people's attitudes. And I just felt if I could take it to a much wider audience, he was the best to help change perceptions of what Down syndrome means today.

S. WHITE: Get out!

C. WHITE: Yes, get out.

SHUBERT: The public response has been overwhelmingly positive. Caroline's Facebook page is now flooded with support of messages. She has this advice for parents who have children with Down syndrome.

C. WHITE: It's a big shock. It's not what you plan in life.

But I can honestly say I wouldn't swap Seb for a world. He lives a full and rewarding life. He brings joy to us. He's charming. And, you know, you will get over it and realize that actually this, you know, there is nothing tragic.

SHUBERT: A message Seb delivers with a kiss.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Bath, England.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: And also this, sharing Christmas thank yous from the heart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to give a shout-out to all my friends and brothers back in Afghanistan -- happy holidays, and I wouldn't be here without you guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Wounded vets working through the holidays as they recover from some terrible injuries.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the next 50 years, we need more food produced. And it is staggering to think, where is it all going to come from? We're already pushing the limits on land. We're already seeing food shortages in some parts of the world. So we need to pick up the pace, I think. And take it to the next level off shore and open up new frontiers for farming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Christmas came just a bit early for a mother in Oregon this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just thinks I'm doing there doing a field op right now. She thinks I'm in the field right now.

Merry Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You made it home. Oh! This is my best present yet.

(END VIDEO CLP)

GORANI: Sailor Jeremy Fogle's (ph) mom didn't think she would get to see her son before he left for redeployment to Afghanistan. But with a little help from his dad, a friend and a local TV station, they pulled it off just in time for Christmas.

Well, their greatest gift this holiday season is that they're still around, frankly. Wounded veterans working through Christmas as they recover from some terrible injuries. Their thoughts, though, are with their friends overseas who are not home for the holidays.

Here's Barbara Starr.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

TRAVIS MILLS, STAFF SEARGENT: When it pushes forward it opens, throw my elbow, it unlocks it. That's how you maneuver.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wounded troops in rehab at the holiday time. All Christmas miracles.

Meet Travis Mills. One of the troops I visited with, asking them to send holiday wishes to their buddies.

MILLS: Hi, everybody. I'm staff sergeant Travis Mills of the 82 Airborne Division Fourth Brigade Combat Team. I want to wish everybody a merry Christmas, happy New Year, to all military forces overseas and home.

And special shout-out to guys in the first platoon, fourth squad, the gun show -- miss you, guys. Love you. Have a merry Christmas.

STARR: Eight months ago, he stepped on an IED.

MILLS: We thought it was clear, but it wasn't. And It took all four limbs, but it didn't take my life. I'm thankful for that.

STARR: It can be a struggle just to walk again.

BO REICHENBACH, U.S. NAVY: I'm Bo Reichenbach with the U.S. Navy. I want to give a shout-out to my friends and family. Have a good holiday and stay safe.

STARR: Army Specialist Tyler Jeffries also lost his legs.

TYLER JEFFRIES, U.S. ARMY: I just want to give a shout to my friends and brothers back in Afghanistan, say happy holidays and I wouldn't be here without you guys.

STARR: Tyler is already getting ready for next Christmas.

JEFFIRES: I want to start walking as fast as I can because I'm in the wheelchair for hours upon hours all day and I want to be able to get up in my own house and get a cup out of the cupboard.

LANCE CPL. JOSHUA LANGSTON WHITE, U.S. MARINE CORPS: I'm Lance Corporal Langston White. I say happy holidays to my family and I've got a bunch of guys from my unit getting Purple Hearts today, and I am thinking about you today and a special place for you guys in my heart.

STARR: Joshua says it's a good holiday season because of his buddies.

LANGSTON WHITE: It is. Definitely. They are there, alive and breathing. So that's good -- it's good in my eyes.

SGT. ADAM KEYES, U.S. ARMY: I'm Sergeant Adam Keyes, combat engineer, 27th Brigade Airborne out of Fort Bragg. I just want to give a shout to the guys in the 27th that are still overseas.

STARR: A triple amputee, there's one thing Adam didn't lose. His airborne wings tattoo.

KEYES: Yes, you could take this one off.

STARR (on camera): Yes, no, no, I didn't even realize. Yes.

KEYES: The wings are still there too. Airborne wings. So that's good.

STARR: And that's good.

KEYES: Yes, of course.

STARR: So that's actually pretty cool, the airborne wings. KEYES: Yes, they made it.

MILLS: As a quadruple amputee eight months ago, laying in a bed hooked to hoses. I can walk now. First pump, lean a little bit here. And fist pump again, bam, and jellyfish, jellyfish, jellyfish, jellyfish, jellyfish.

STARR (voice-over): Barbara Starr, CNN, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: And up next, letters to Santa from around the world. Not asking for toys but asking for the gift of hope. That's after the break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPC. TRAVIS BAILEY, U.S. ARMY: This is Specialist Bailey, 3rd ID 3rd Brigade, (INAUDIBLE) Kuwait. I'd like to say merry Christmas to family and friends back home. Thank you for all your support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Things are getting wacky as people celebrate Christmas this year. Take a look.

Yes, yes, this family in Fountain Valley, California, takes holiday lights to a new level. Some neighbors enjoy the show, but one guy was not amused and says the glitz is more appropriate for the Las Vegas Strip.

Also, draw your curtains, close your shades - oh, here we are, the queen of England is amused as she wears snazzy 3-D glasses to watch a sneak preview of her Christmas address.

Now, for a water-skiing Santa and flying elves. Just one way to celebrate the season on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. It looks soggy there.

And jolly old St. Nick showed up on Wall Street today. Santa was on hand for the early closing of the trading day. He's all about listing companies and capitalism and whatnot. Stocks were down, by the way it wonder if bears or bulls will get a lump of coal. I guess bears maybe.

It's an annual tradition, tracking Santa's whereabouts on Christmas Eve. But in recent years, the yearly ritual has gotten more high tech.

Alexandra Steele is following the track from Atlanta.

Yet, again, where is he now? He was in Ukraine the last hour.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right.

All right. You can see, this is NORAD tracking Santa. And right now, he was last spotted in Amman, Jordan, heading for Jerusalem, in two minutes and 34 seconds.

What's so cool about this is kind of the back story, how this all started.

Now, in 1955, there was an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper and it invited kids to call Santa. Well, the number in the advertisement was wrong so the kids called NORAD which is really a group of people kind of watching the skies. The officers on duty all played along. And the rest is history. So that's NORAD.

There's a lot of cool things to do on this. You can, of course, look at all the holiday activities and you can look, scroll through the village, and Santa has a hidden activity in each village to show you.

But Google is in on the action this year as well. But there's a little discrepancy where the Google Santa is and where the NORAD Santa is. NORAD seems to be flying from north to south. Google is flying from south to north. So I think they're kind of mingling right now in Greece. So in Santorini.

So, here's a look at his dashboard. You can see where he is. There's a lot of games to play on this one as well. So, kids kind of having a ball with it. It shows you where Santa is. He's leaving his presence as he moves.

But he's moving from Africa north. So now they kind of just bypassed each other in Greece. And now Google is now in Finland where the other guy was. Or similar Santa was earlier. So, they're kind of meeting in the middle. Just around the equator.

GORANI: Well, here's the thing, we just don't want a midair Santa crash. That would be the worst case scenario.

STEELE: No. The FAA is on that.

GORANI: Because then nobody gets present.

STEELE: Yes.

GORANI: Thank you so much, Alexandra.

In an age of e-mails and tweets, here we go. It's nice to know that a letter can still be a powerful tool. It also helps if you have a powerful role model. That would be 9-year-old Gabriella Miller.

She got strangers from around the world to write letters to Santa. That outpouring will bring some joy for severely ill children like Gabriella herself.

Jay Korff from our affiliate WJLA has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS CROLL, LETTER CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER: We have a mountain of letters here.

JAY KORFF, WJLA REPORTER (voice-over): Chris Croll's cramped foyer in Leesburg, Virginia --

CROLL: Yes, just put them in the table for the next orders.

KORFF: -- was transformed Saturday into a remarkable repository of letters.

CROLL: Here's a heavy bin if anybody's feeling strong.

KORFF: For weeks, she and a small band of volunteers have been counting, culling and reading.

CROLL: This one says, dear Santa, all I want is to marry Justin Bieber.

KORFF: Seasonal notes to St. Nick.

CROLL: Dear Santa, I wish I could see you when you company out of the chimney.

KORFF: They're handwritten from across the country and around the globe.

CROLL: Letters come in from Saudi Arabia, and Ecuador, and all over Europe. And most of them is one kid writing one letter at a time.

KORFF: But they read like dreams instead of superficial demands.

CROLL: Dear Santa, I wish Gabriella's wishes would come true.

Dear Santa Claus, my only wish is to have Gabriella better.

KORFF: Because they aren't meant for Kriss Kringle at all.

CROLL: Love, Jesse. Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah. I love you, Gabriella.

KORFF: Only a month ago, Croll's dear friends Mark and Allen Miller learned their vivacious 9-year-old daughter Gabriella had an inoperable brain tumor. Thanks to Make a Wish Foundation, Gabriella gets to travel to Paris. But before going, this thoughtful 4th grader had a selfless epiphany.

CROLL: I know. We still have mail coming.

KORFF: She asked for letters to Santa because Macy's donates $1 back to Make a Wish for every letter received.

Gabriella figured other children struggling just like her deserved their dream.

CROLL: Every night at some point I burst into tears, just because children are so good in their hearts.

I will not stop praying for you, from Kennedy Baca (ph).

KORFF: Well, they blew past their goal of 10,000.

CROLL: Each bag probably has a few thousand letters in it.

KORFF: Social media made 50,000 a reality.

CROLL: It's really buoyed her spirits during a time that otherwise might have felt really lonely.

KORFF: Then all expectations were shattered -- 100,000 became 150,000, which morphed into more than 200,000 letters.

A moving company donated a truck. The U.S. Postal Service, bags and carts. So, this avalanche of love could be delivered to the Macy's at Dulles Town Center.

CROLL: It highlights what the community can do when they really do believe. It's pretty incredible.

KORFF: Despite arduous chemo and radiation treatments, this is where Gabriella made her first public appearance. Hundreds filled the atrium to support a girl who symbolizes so much of what we admire in the human condition.

CROLL: On behalf of Make a Wish Foundation, we thank you for everything that you've done.

KORFF: Then Chris Croll made the announcement.

CROLL: Thanks to everyone who believes. It's 240,983!

KORFF: What happened next no one expected -- one final letter would be read.

GABRIELLA MILLER: Dear Santa, I'm Gabriella, the one with the tumor. Make a Wish has really touched me.

KORFF: Cancer makes Gabriella physically weak, her speech altered. But you can hear her strength in every word.

MILLER: I want to say one more thing, this is my motto and I think you could use it too. You might have a bad day today, but there's always a bright side to look forward to tomorrow, the good side. What's your bright side? Thank you. Happy holidays.

KORFF: It's impossible to calculate a love that started in a little girl's heart, travels around the world --

CROLL: Isn't she fantastic?

KORFF: -- and returns with the immeasurable gift of hope.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GORANI: Such a sweet girl. Her motto: you might have a bad day today but there's always a bright start to look forward to tomorrow. Really, always a very sweet little girl who is doing a lot of good around her.

Thanks for watching this program.

"CNN PRESENTS: THE MYSTERY OF JESUS" starts now.