Special Photo Hannah Rinehart and her husband of two years, Mark, a math teacher at South Gwinnett High School are seen here. Doctors believe Hannah contracted a rare infection from bacteria commonly found in dog saliva, which resulted in the amputation of her hands and feet.
SUWANEE -- Sporting royal blue T-shirts, nearly 50 friends and family members of an ailing Snellville woman arrived Thursday at a board of education meeting to show their support.
The T-shirt color was a nod to Hannah Rinehart's favorite hue.
In June, Rinehart was stricken with a bacterial infection that resulted in the quadruple amputation of her limbs.
Hannah's husband, Mark, a South Gwinnett High School teacher, has been taking care of his wife for several weeks now.
While Mark's co-workers at the high school have offered to help by donating their own sick and vacation time, district policy won't allow it.
District Spokesperson Sloan Roach said Thursday that human resources is offering Mark "several options that would allow him to continue his employment, including benefits and salary."
Added Roach: "We are doing all we can to work with Mr. Rinehart during this difficult time."
During Thursday's meeting, Hannah's father, Doug Johnson urged school leaders to consider the situation.
"It will take all of us working together as a team to give her a chance to recover," Johnson said. "I'm asking for the time and help and support that only you, as a board, can give. She will need every second of Mark's support."
Mark, who is working to support the family with one salary, has said that deductibles, insurance rates and other medical expenses continue to amass.
Mark was present at Thursday's board of education meeting but did not speak during the public comments portion of the gathering.
He told The Post that the show of support at the meeting was "hard to take in."
"It's never a good thing to be in a position like this," Mark said. "It's nothing you look forward to, but it's good to see that she is loved."
Hannah fell ill in late June after contracting a rare bacterial infection from dog saliva. By late July, the tissue in her hands and feet had deteriorated to the point that her extremities had to be amputated to save her life.
A patient care technician in DeKalb County, Hannah, 32, had successfully battled Hodgkin's lymphoma for years, and had advocated for cancer research at Relay For Life events.
Roach said that while the district acknowledges it's a "catastrophic situation ... this is not a simple change."
"As a school district we have on average 550 people on leave at any given time," Roach said. "Currently, we have 131 people on leave who are not receiving pay because they have used all of their available sick leave."
Added Roach: "In looking at this request, decisions must be made that are fair and sustainable for all 22,000 GCPS employees. That said, we will continue to do all we can do to work with Mr. Rinehart during this difficult time."