Teacher, coach who serves as role model to students surprised with trip to Europe at George Washington High School

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A student surprise brought a beloved East Side teacher to tears Friday in the middle of his first period algebra class at George Washington High School.

Teacher and coach Al Perez knew something special was coming when his entire boys soccer program walked through the door, carrying a message that read: "Making a difference on and off the field."

Pepsico Showdown and Buddy's Helpers surprised Perez with his first trip to Europe, with airfare, hotel and professional soccer match tickets for two included.

Perez's son Oscar said his dad is a towering role model.

"'I just do what I can," Perez said.

Whether it's offering them a ride or buying them food, Perez is known to always be there for his students whenever they are in need.

Over his last 25 years at Washington High School, students said they have seen him live by example.

His student athletes also said they are grateful to have had the coach by their side when the CTU strike ended their playoff hopes last fall.

Now Perez has a tough choice to make in picking where he would like to go, but he said he has his eyes set on Rome.
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