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'Little waving girl' of Bainbridge Township reminds us all that a small gesture can leave a great impact

7-year-old Lucy DeFranco has been brightening the day of those in her community by smiling and waving at people driving by her home.

BAINBRIDGE, Ohio — 7-year-old Lucy DeFranco of Bainbridge Township has a tradition. Every morning as she waits at the end of her driveway for the school bus, Lucy pops out of her mother's sunroof and waves at people driving by on Chagrin Road.

“People look for her in the morning,” says Lucy’s mom, Cheryl DeFranco.

Although schools are closed for the rest of the academic year due to COVID-19, Lucy and her mother made it back out to the end of their driveway this week to wave for the first time in more than a month.

“It felt really good because people like when I waved to them,” says the 2nd grader.

Lucy’s smile and wave are reminders that it's the small things in life that people miss. For some, those small things have the greatest impact.

“Every morning when I drive in, there’s Lucy just waving and smiling and having a great time,” says David Strahl.

Strahl owns a painting company just minutes away from Lucy’s house. He says the girl’s smile and wave always had the ability to change his mood.

“Sometimes you're grumpy and not feeling well and not looking forward to another day at work, and Lucy always just brings a smile to my face and makes me think everything's OK.”

Strahl wanted to show his appreciation to the child he previously knew as the “little waving girl,” so he dropped off a small Olaf doll and card with a handwritten message inside to Lucy’s home.

“I was really truly speechless when we opened up that bag, when we got inside and read the card,” DeFranco says. “Someone took the time out of their day and out of their life to create this moment for her to thank her and tell her what an impact that she’s made. It was really a special moment.”

DeFranco says Lucy plans to continue the morning waving routine even though she won’t be waiting for a school bus anytime soon. The little waving girl of Bainbridge Township just wants to make other people happy.

After Lucy's story aired Thursday morning, 3News received the following e-mail from a viewer:

Dear Lucy,

Thank you. I live in Canton so I'll never see you, but I saw your story on Channel 3 news and I think you're wonderful.

You made a choice to continue bringing happiness and cheer to the people who drive by your house. In this time of isolation and separation, it’s the little things we all appreciate, like you out there waving each morning.

I think you're a hero.

All my best to you and your family,
Steven Roberts
Canton, Ohio