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Trinity Reeves and Preston Hodges have a friendship built on fun.
It is also a friendship that is powered by mutual kindness, giving and time.
Reeves, an MSHS senior, and Hodges, an MSHS freshman, met at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year when Reeves decided to join the Bulldog Buddies program at the high school, which began in 2017.
Hodges was part of the Bulldog Buddies program at Mahomet-Seymour Junior high for three years. That program began in 2005.
Bulldog Buddies, which pairs two Mahomet-Seymour students together seeks to provide a safe and respectful environment for students in the special education program to naturally connect with their peers through age-appropriate, activities.
Reeves usually helps Hodges with his homework and then Hodges usually entertains Reeves while playing the guitar.
“The guitar is really out of tune, so we can’t really make notes with it, but it’s really fun,” Reeves said.
After learning peer asked a friend from the Bulldog Buddies program to go to homecoming date,” Reeves decided that she wanted to do the same.
“It’s just what she does. It gave me joy to know she’s just doing what she does,” Adi, Trinity’s mom said.
“I was pretty excited when she told me she asked Preston,” Adi continued. “Since school started, she started working in the Young Adult Program. She comes home and she has something interesting to say each day.”
But when Reeves approached and asked Hodges to be her homecoming date, Hodges declined.
“The story is really funny because at first, he said no,” Reeves said.
“One of his friend’s sisters told him that if she didn’t have a date for prom or a boyfriend for prom that she would take him,” Linda, Preston’s mom explained.
“And he doesn’t understand the differences between the dances, so he told her no because Bekah is taking me.”
The families checked with Bekah before pitching the idea to Hodges. She already had a date.
“Thirty-seconds after telling him that she’s going with someone else, he was like, ‘Okay, I’ll go with you,’” Reeves said.
Hodges already had dance attire from his volunteer work at the Miss Amazing contest last summer. The annual event gives girls with disabilities a way to showcase their inner beauty.
“He got to walk some of the Miss Amazing contestants across the stage,” Linda said. “He got in line with the ROTC guys and gave each girl his arm and kept walking them across the stage to take them to where they needed to talk about themselves, and then he took them back out and got in line to get his next girl.”
Hodges wore the suit two additional times. Once as he dressed up on a cruise with his dad and then he wore his pants and shoes along with a different shirt that matched Reeves’ dress for homecoming.
“He had the coolest shoes I have ever seen!” Adi said. “His shoes were amazing!”
After trying on about 10 dresses, Reeves ended up at Goodwill where she found both her homecoming dress and senior prom dress for a total of $6.54.
The duo met up for pictures at Lake of the Woods then joined Hodges sister, Lindsey, and her date Finnley for dinner at the Olive Garden.
Linda said moments like this are good for Preston because he gets to live life like every other kid.
“He would have gone to the dance anyway if Trinity didn’t ask him because he would have gone with the kids in his class. But this way he got to step away from his class a little bit more and be a part of something and have fun.”
Cindy Brumfield, a district aide, makes sure that there are a few events throughout the course of the school year that parents of special education students feel comfortable dropping off their child at. She will stay with the students as a chaperone while the parents stay at home. Brumfield was at homecoming.
“She’s there as a point base,” Linda said. “They can do their thing as a group and not have their parents hovering either.”
Hodges capitalized on the opportunity to be with his date and friends during the dance.
A boy whose body does not stop moving when he is on the dance floor, shared the joy of dancing with Reeves and his best friend, Joseph.
“They come unglued when they see each other,” Adi said.
Reeves said she had so much trouble keeping up with Preston during the dance.
“He gets down,” she said. “I was like ‘oh man, I can’t keep up.’ It was a lot of fun though.”
Hodges was not even tired when he got home from the dance.
“He told me that he was not tired and that he’d like to keep staying up,” Linda said. “He went to bed at 11:45 that night.”
Reeves, on the other hand, fell asleep almost immediately after she returned home.
“I got home, talked to my parents about how it went, then went to bed.”
Reeves and Hodges are now back to their normal routine of spending time together during the school day.
Reeves spends her evenings doing homework and volunteering at her church.
She is part of a Mary and Martha project, a program at the Community Evangelical Free Church which bridges the gap between women of different generations while also helping within the community and at home.
She also helps with programs like Vacation Bible School and Awana.
Reeves focuses on working with kids. She said she enjoys being a safe space for those children who may not always feel like they fit in.
“They are attracted to her like flypaper,” Adi said.
“I like to see them thrive in the environments that they wouldn’t normally thrive in,” Reeves said. “It makes me happy that I can be there for them.”
Hodges spends his time after school learning more about bocce ball, basketball, track and field, gymnastics and bowling through the Special Olympics program.
Above all, he likes to have fun with those around him, whether in the classroom, on the field or when he volunteers.
Whenever an opportunity to give back to the Special Olympics program arises, Hodges is all in to help out.
He really enjoys fundraisers that involve working with an adult to serve food.
He asks patrons, “Do you like food or drink? And “What are you having?”
Then he turns to his partner and tells them to “hurry up” in a very loving way.
“Preston’s always been an enthusiastic, generally loving kid,” Linda said. “You cannot upset him because he doesn’t understand being upset. Everything is the best, everything is fun and rosy and fantastic.”
“He wants you to make sure everyone is always happy. He wants to make sure you’re always happy. So if you’re crying, whatever the problem is, he’s all over you trying to fix it.”
Linda said the bond that he has with Reeves and the other students through the Bulldog Buddies program is something that’s special.
“It makes him feel included,” she said.