On Dec. 21, I posted a feature on our 2012 Bolingbrook Patch Person of the Year. On Dec. 24, our Person of the Year died at the age of 44.
Debbie Caputo was an inspiration to Bolingbrook for her giving nature, her fierce battle with breast cancer and her work as a fitness instructor and personal trainer for the Bolingbrook Park District.
Caputo received eight nominations to be named Bolingbrook Patch 2012 Person of the Year.
In the words of our readers, Caputo was an “absolute inspiration.” “The most selfless person I’ve ever met.” “A fighter.” “A ball of laughs.” “The heart of her family.”
Caputo was a 20-year resident of Bolingbrook. Her two daughters, Marissa and Alyssa, attend Bolingbrook High School. For seven years, she was a fitness instructor and personal trainer at the Bolingbrook Park District.
Seventeen months ago, Caputo was diagnosed with breast cancer.
As word spread of Caputo's health, hundreds of people visited her at home this week. Debbie's husband, Anthony, said 300 people had stopped by in just two days. The outpouring of visitors was a testament to Debbie, he said, who spends her life going out of her way to do good for others.
"She is always the first person to extend her hand to help someone," Caputo said. "She has a true love for children and all people."
“She’s so giving,” said her daughter, Alyssa. “She never asks for anything in return. She’s so loving. She will open her arms and home to anyone.”
Putting her own needs aside to focus on others was Debbie's trademark.
A few weeks ago, a friend called Debbie wanting to hold a fundraiser to help her pay medical costs. She said she appreciated the gesture, but that he or she should donate the money to the victims of Superstorm Sandy instead.
“She said that they were in a worse condition than she was,” he said.
Debbie's friends said she was a "fighter" who faced a rare form of breast cancer with a determination to survive.
“She’s the strongest woman I’ve ever met,” said friend Tina Fini. “Through this whole ordeal, I’ve never seen her shed a tear.
She’s always worried about other people. She will call you from the hospital to see how you are doing. She’s an amazing woman.”
Margie Carcerano said she that after driving Caputo home following a chemotherapy treatment, Caputo started making soup for another woman with cancer.
"I am truly proud to call Debbie Caputo my friend," Carcerano said.
As a fitness instructor and personal trainer, Debbie Caputo took a singular interest in every person she taught, Anthony Caputo said. Her goal was to not only help people train but to give them a better quality of life, he said. That included helping several clients with poor health change their lifestyles.
“If she had helped one person, she had accomplished something that day,” Anthony Caputo said.
Barb Carens came to Caputo after being diagnosed with high cholesterol. After Debbie helped her improve her diet and her exercise regime, Barb’s cholesterol was reduced without medication.
Since Debbie loved to cook, one day Barb bought an eggplant to make eggplant parmesan. She called Debbie, who gave her the recipe while receiving chemotherapy.
John Chase, fitness sales manager for the Bolingbrook Park District, said one of his greatest joys of his job was the “opportunity to work with her.”
“I learned a lot from her. The things we did (at the park district) we would not have been able to accomplish had it not been for the things she brought to our program.”
As one reader said in her nomination:
"(Debbie) is a wonderful, kind, compassionate woman who has faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and she deserves recognition more than anyone else I can think of."
The following obituary was posted by Bolingbrook-McCauley Funeral Chapel and Crematorium:
Debbie A. Caputo (nee Marino), age 44, of Bolingbrook, beloved wife of Anthony. Loving mother of Alyssa and Marissa. Dear stepmother of Rachel. Cherished daughter of John and Martie Marino and daughter in law of the late Joseph and the late Rachel Caputo. Fond sister of John (Anna), Anthony (Angela), Michael (Christy) and Nick (Lori). Dear sister-in-law of Nicholas (Linda), Frank (Sheila) and Joseph (Cindy). Also survived by many nieces and nephews.
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