'Wheel' of fame spins again for Parrish woman

Teacher gets a second shot at stardom after episode reruns

mclear@bradenton.comJuly 4, 2013 

PARRISH -- Laura Cassidy thought her 15 minutes of fame had expired. But earlier this week her celebrity status was renewed through a rerun.

Cassidy, who lives in Parrish and teaches second grade at Team Success in Bradenton, won more than $70,000 in December and a trip to St. Lucia on "Wheel of Fortune."

Her episode was rerun Tuesday.

"In St. Lucia I was treated like a celebrity," she said. "I thought after that, the 'Wheel of Fortune' part of my life was over. But now I get another hoorah. It's great."

She grew up near Youngstown, Ohio, where a TV station did a story about her reappearance. Apparently, however, she said the people at the station didn't know they were watching a rerun.

Late Tuesday night, she

got a call from a Youngstown newspaper, too.

"You know you're calling me at 10 o'clock at night, don't you?" she said to the reporter.

Sorry, he said, but I hear you were on "Wheel of Fortune."

"Yeah," she said, "Six months ago."

"Oh," the reporter said. "Never mind."

She learned her episode was going to air again just a day or two before, when friends started posting on Facebook they had seen commercials with clips from her show.

Watching the rerun was a different experience than watching the original airing.

"The first time I watched it was really exciting," she said "I was surrounded by about 100 people and everybody was cheering and yelling.

"This time I nitpicked. It was just me and my husband, Patrick, and our daughter. And I was looking at all the little details, like, 'Oh my God, I have a double chin!' or my expression when it was someone else's turn but when the camera was on me. I was being really critical. But it was fun."

She received new Facebook friend requests this time, though not as many as when the show first aired, and though she's getting some calls, her phone hasn't been ringing non-stop the way it did in December.

Most of the $78,000 she won is already gone, she said. She used it to pay off student loans.

Being out of debt is wonderful, she said, but maybe the best part of the experience has been the new respect she gets from students.

"Even the big kids, the seventh- and eighth-graders, they look at me like I've done something amazing," she said. "I get to tell them that if you learn, you can do anything."

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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