Town mourns the loss of beloved athletic director

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HOOPESTON — The town is mourning the death of an athletic director and teacher. 

Brian Hodge died this week, he worked at both the high school and middle school,and the town says because of his impact in the community, he’ll be hard to replace.

“The whole community loved Brian Hodge” said Dave Gaddis.

Hodge was more than a 1987 graduate , a family man, or a beloved teacher. He was a friend to those who needed him most.d Gaddis said,  “My middle grandson wrestles, Hodge told him he was going to kick his butt after he got his surgery done.”

Now, Gaddis’s grandson wont be getting that chance.That is where Mahlah comes in.

Karl Gibbs, a pastor with the Local Luther Church said “She’s totally non judgmental, and she knows frankly when to be quiet and listen, and give unconditional love”.

The comfort dog is walking around the school giving emotional support during this tough time. “The doctors tell us, theres something about when you pet an animal, your blood pressure decreases, your heart rate slows down, and you just begin to open up and share, and that’s what’s been happening today” said Gibbs

While community members say the legacy of Hodge will continue, Mahlah can help people begin to move on. “A lot of tears today but also a lot of smiles as they reflect upon his memory” said Gaddis.

The Lutheran Church Charities has one hundred and thirty service dogs in twenty two states. They’re a volunteer organization that help with emotional support in situations like this. Mahlah has been training since she was eight weeks old, and she is now two.

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