By Christiane Cordero

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you grow up in Barron, Wisconsin, your path tends to cross with almost everyone in town. That is how 17-year-old Ashton Blick met Jayme Closs.

“She was an alto and I’m an alto, too, so I got to work with her a lot with music and her section,” Blick said.

And it’s how everyone else got to know the missing 13-year-old girl over the past three months.

“A lot of people didn’t know that Closs family, but right away when they heard the news they knew someone who was related to them or knew something was going on and wanted to help the people who were kind of suffering because of it,” Blick said.

She says every day since has, in its own way, been tough. Even on Friday, what you might think would be the best day.

“It hit everyone with the same emotion kind of when she went missing, but in a better way if that makes sense,” Blick said. “Everyone was sobbing the moment they heard she was found.”

So what got them through it? Hope. It is a word likely repeated every day here since October 15. And the belief that she would find her way home.

“We knew that someday she was going to come back, even though it’s been 88 days and they’ve been a hard 88 days, we knew that she was strong through all of it and we’re so happy she’s back home,” Blick said.

Ashton knows there’s a long road ahead. She also knows the way Barron was tested over the past three months, gave them a bond like few towns experience.

Her hope now? That it can turn into strength for many, many years to come.

“We don’t know what really happened to her yet. We’re sad that she lost her family, but we’re ready to help her and get her whatever she needs to get over what happened,” Blick said.

And Barron has extra resources in its road to recovery. Blick said she was teaching at the middle school Friday and they had therapy dogs and counselors available for students.

Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told us kids, especially, were so invested in this case.

Christiane Cordero

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