Former Hanover teacher and student race towards recovery

Posted May 31, 2016

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — With every step, Catherine Smith and Heather James are taking a leap for their body, mind and spirit.

“She’s just been a great support for me,” James says about Smith.

In 2013, James was a senior at Hanover High School who was fighting for her life. She was born with Cystic Fibrosis and needed both a double lung transplant and liver transplant to survive. At the time, Smith was her upper-level Spanish teacher.

“We both struggle with chronic health conditions, so we just sorta clicked,” Smith explained.

Smith has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare genetic condition affecting connective tissues. She has had 10 surgeries in eight years. The most recent was last spring on her hip.

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