CI Hero: Local coach inspires teammates, community to be inclusive

CI Heroes

PEORIA COUNTY, Ill.– A local man leads his community both on and off the field. He strives to lead by example on why being inclusive is such a powerful tool.

Coach Todd Hollis is this week’s CI Hero.

For those in Elmwood-Brimfield, the “black out” football game is a not just another Friday night game under the lights. It’s a community awareness night for inclusion.

“He’s genuine,” said Meghan Brignadello, a local mother of child with disabilities. “He has a heart of gold and he’s wanting to make a difference. Our community needs kindness. We need to accept others and he offers that.”

coach Todd Hollis has two daughters who have down syndrome. His team raises money each year to donate to Easterseals. His players say it’s eye opening to meet children and adults with disabilities.

“Seeing where the money goes on black out night really goes, a lot of people don’t know what we do and what our purpose is but Coach Hollis really tries to get that across to us.”

Coach Hollis not only positively impacts high schoolers, he reaches his community through continuous support and mentor-ship.

“It’s going to be okay because I have Coach Hollis on my side,”said Brignadello. “He’s going to coach me through it and I feel like every year he’s coached me through the emotions of having a child with special needs.”

Meghan Brignadello’s son, Connor, was an honorary Trojan this football season. He got a helmet, a jersey, and even went on the field with Coach Hollis and the team.

“Not only did Coach Hollis embrace him, make him one of his teammates, but he also had the whole team just include him in everything,” said Brignadello. “It was just all about including Connor and that was a remarkable experience for our family.”

Brignadello says having a pillar of inclusiveness, like Coach Hollis, is a true blessing.

“We need more people like this to make a difference,” said Brignadello. “We need to include others. It’s going to start with him. It’s going to start with our community today and years to come.”

If your family or someone you know is looking for program to help kids with special needs CLICK HERE.

To nominate someone you know to be our next CI Hero, CLICK HERE.

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