Amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, one New Jersey elementary school teacher and his beloved pit bull are spreading a message of kindness and inspiration.
For two years now, Chris Hannah has been bringing Cole the Deaf Dog -- his own pet pit bull whom he adopted three years ago, and got certified as a therapy dog -- into the classroom at Dr. William Mennies Elementary School in Vineland, New Jersey to play with the students and teach them about friendship and overcoming disabilities and obstacles.
Now, with schools across the country having to shut their doors due to social distancing mandates, Chris has had to get creative with how he shares Cole's radiant joy and positivity. Along with doing virtual visits on YouTube, the dynamic duo hosted a celebratory parade in the "Cole-Mobile" to allow students a chance to see their favorite furry friend.
"He's like a rock to [the kids]," Chris told ET in a recent interview from his home in the Garden State. "They look at him as a symbol of hope. We talk about his story, his disability… and they look at him as a symbol that they can conquer things, and that they can persevere through a lot."
"When this whole thing started happening, it was so important that they stay in contact with him," Chris explained. "Especially now, because they need him now more than ever."
In response, the students turned out with hand-painted signs, posters and messages of love scrawled in chalk on their drive ways to cheer Cole on during the drive-by visit.
With social distancing protocols in place, it wasn't just Chris' students who were suddently cut off from their time with Cole, but veterans at the Vineland Veterans Memorial Home as well. But again, Chris and his cheerful canine found a way to visit residents by greeting from outside their windows.