A local woman crossed Europe on foot, accomplishing a personal goal, and with a first grade class cheering her on along the way.
Cathy DeFruscio said she has always been an active person, and that she loves running and walking.
In early August, Cathy set out to walk from St. John, France to Santiago, Spain. She said the experience taught her so much about herself. “In the beginning it was absolutely beautiful it was up through the mountains and, which was very challenging, but then when we got down on the other side it was sometimes not so pretty because you didn’t have a whole lot to look at,” she said.
While Cathy walked eight hours a day, her sister in Wheeling was sharing her journey with her first grade students at Woodsdale Elementary. Little did Cathy know, she was about to get a big cheering section.
“All you have to do is see their little faces and I think that’s what it was for her and some of her friends,” her sister, Susan Brossman said. “I mean they said such precious things but to see and hear their little voices, I think was just so inspirational when you’re exhausted at the end of the day.”
Cathy said her sister sent her a video of the kids, who affectionately called her “Cappy,” and gave her words of encouragement like, “C’mon Caps, you can do it! This is great!”
Cathy said she showed her friends from the United States, and even her foreign friends as well. “That’s a language that everyone understands is when they watch little kids, even if they couldn’t understand them, they knew that they were cheering us on, those happy little faces!” she said.
Susan used the journey to teach her class about the world and other cultures. “Anything that she experienced, I tried to like bring it back home to us so something that they might understand and relate to,” she said.
Cathy is now a cherished member of the classroom, and little do the first grade students know, they are cherished by many people around the world, too.
“I think what I really wanted them to get the most out of it that they, as young as they are they can make or break somebody’s day and that by their simple little acts they made her day and other people’s in a huge way,” Susan said.
Cathy brought the class pencils from Spain when she visited on Wednesday, and even taught them a little Spanish.