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Wish come true

Special Olympian gets call from Hulk Hogan

By TAMI MOSSERStaff Writer Published: February 4, 2017 5:00 AM
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FRANKLIN TWP. -- There are few things Brian Hoffman loves more than professional wrestling.

And among professional wrestlers, there is no one Hoffman loves more than Hulk Hogan.

Hoffman is a bit of an athlete himself, participating in softball, basketball, bowling, swimming and powerlifting as a Special Olympian and making annual appearances at the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce's Field of Dreams event.

But a few months ago, Hoffman -- as lively a guy as you'd ever meet -- developed a cough. By Thanksgiving, he had gone to an urgent care facility, which referred him to Wooster Community Hospital. From there, Hoffman went to an Akron hospital.

The news was not good. Hoffman had cancer.

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Jill Campbell, who manages Hoffman's Franklin Township group home, decided to make Hoffman's next few months as memorable as possible. After a two-week hospital stay, she arranged for a white stretch limousine to return Hoffman to Wayne County, stopping at Ryan Helms's Buckeye Street barbershop for a quick trim. Helms opened the shop just for Hoffman, who enjoyed a few drink boxes and some beef jerky while he sat in the chair.

"It was a special treat for Brian that day," Campbell said, adding that Helms has agreed to come out to the home whenever Hoffman needs a trim.

Campbell is well aware of Hoffman's love of wrestling, having taken him to a WWE meet-and-greet and exhibition in Fishkill, N.Y., in 2012. Hoffman got a chance to meet his hero then and came away with a photo album full of memories.

Wouldn't it be nice, Campbell thought, to put Hoffman in touch with Hogan once again.

Because the Make-A-Wish Foundation considers requests only for those 18 and younger, Campbell consulted Hoffman's LifeCare Hospice social worker Mark Schmidt about other options. Schmidt suggested the Dream Foundation, which grants end-of-life wishes to adults. Typically, Schmidt said, the organization likes to have the individual meet directly with the person he or she wants to see. "Now, Brian's not really able to get out," he said, "but they really wanted him to reconnect."

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So, with the help of the foundation and with Hogan agreeing, Hoffman got a surprise phone call.

Campbell captured the next two minutes on video, in which Hoffman laughs and whoops it up with Hogan and does a pretty spot-on impersonation of the wrestler himself. "He's a big guy," Hoffman said. "He's my big man."

Schmidt, who saw the video later, said, "I talked to Brian and he was just super excited."

Campbell also was able to get Hoffman to Cornwell Quality Tools in Wadsworth, where Hoffman is employed through the Nick Amster Workshop. Next up, Campbell said, Hoffman said he wanted to go see some friends from Nick Amster play basketball. "We're going to try to go in and see everyone," Campbell said. "He misses his friends."

Then, Hoffman said, he'd like to go to the Canton Civic Center for the upcoming WWE show. It'd be a good chance, he said, to show off his WWE tattoo.

Campbell laughed. The tattoo, just temporary, was done by a friend of hers at Studio Vitruvius.

"He's got the most wonderful temperament," Schmidt said of Hoffman, "and he's the most positive person."

The call from Hogan meant the world to Hoffman, who lives at the home with his brother and a few other men. "We consider all of us family," said Campbell.

Schmidt said he was happy to help. "When they enjoy those better days," he said, "we like to enjoy them with them."

Reporter Tami Mosser can be reached at 330-287-1655 or tmosser@the-daily-record.com.


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