Camelot Education Teacher and Soldier Larry Danhoff Gets Big Send-off Before Overseas Deployment
Students at Camelot Education’s Therapeutic Day School of Hoffman Estates may already think their gym teacher, Larry Danhoff, is a superhero with his abundant energy and infectious laugh, but now, they also know he is a real hero.
Danhoff is a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, about to deploy overseas for a year or longer. On Thursday, November 21 staff, students, and Danhoff’s family gathered for a celebratory send-off.
Danhoff, who has served as a physical education teacher at Hoffman Estates since February 2016, has been in the Logistics branch of the Reserve since 2012. He and his unit specialize in transporting equipment and personnel. He also supervises training for the soldiers in his unit one weekend a month and two weeks a year while in the U.S.
Danhoff said he will miss his day job. “What I truly enjoy most is the opportunity to change kids’ lives,” he said. “I will miss being around every day to work with staff and students. The students make my day, every day.”
Danhoff helps greet students in the morning and then makes the rounds, stopping in and escorting students from the classroom when it’s their PE time, and he brings them to the gym. In addition to the gym, the school has walking trails and two open fields where Larry organizes athletics and exercise activities for students.
Some staff and students wore camouflage at the send-off event as a tribute. The school presented Captain Danhoff with a cake and created a bin of “Camelot Good Thoughts” so students could write comments and draw pictures that Danhoff was able to take with him. Those thoughts included:
“You have made us proud to call you our friend.”
“Larry is selfless, brave, strong, kind, smart, tenacious, and energetic.”
“Good luck to the best and funniest soldier I have ever known!”
“Safe travels, but hurry up and get back so we can play some more hockey in gym class!”
“We truly respect all that you do for Camelot and our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
Of course, Captain Danhoff’s job will be waiting for him when he returns. He is the lone member of the military on the staff.
“He’s a modest guy, always has a smile on his face, super flexible, and always willing to help other people,” said Camelot of Hoffman Estates Executive Director Jennifer Burke. “If he has any concerns about being deployed, he never showed them. He’s just very positive and dedicated to the students.”
Hoffman Estates serves students ages 3-21 diagnosed with social-emotional disorders as well as developmental disabilities. At the party, accommodations were made for students who require more supports. Their 1-to-1 aides accompanied them and helped them participate in all the festivities. Danhoff’s wife and children, ages 6 and 3, were there to soak in the love and support as well.