Special to the Shopper News
By Jennifer Wezensky

His smile lit up a room. His energy and enthusiasm about life was contagious and unforgettable. He always sought to help others less fortunate--literally taking off the shoes he was wearing to give to a homeless man and giving the shirt off his back to someone who needed it.

Marshall High School graduate Isaac Loughrige, 21, passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 22 with complications from H1N1. In this time of devastating loss and grief, the very tight-knit Loughrige family in Marshall has created the "I've Got Your Back" Foundation in memory of Isaac and to honor his selfless and giving way of life. Because Isaac had a passion for helping and working with children, many of the foundation programs will be for kids. Just a few of the programs the family plans to implement with this foundation include a football camp for kids, a tutoring program for kids, providing school supplies to needy children, providing athletic equipment for underprivileged kids, giving Christmas and birthday presents to kids in need, providing winter coats, gloves and boots for needy kids and creating a scholarship program for two college-bound seniors at both Marshall High School and Battle Creek Central High School.

"Our mission is to educate, impact and inspire hope to area youths in need by continuing some of the efforts that reflect Isaac’s heart," said Shawn and Kathleen Loughrige of Marshall, Isaac's parents.

There are so many stories about Isaac that illustrate his big personality, his deep faith and his caring, giving and joyous heart.

John Mills, 22, was Isaac's roommate at Central Michigan University during their freshman year. They also were teammates on the CMU football team. After a female student was sexually assaulted on campus, he said that Isaac created a service where young women could call to be escorted at night anywhere on campus. All year, Isaac continued the service, just another example of his willingness to help others.

"He was very caring and sharing," said Mills, now a senior at Michigan Tech University in Houghton. "If I needed a shirt, he would take the one off his back. That was the kind of guy he was."

When teammates on the football team lived too far away to go home on weekends, Isaac invited them to Marshall to spend time with his family and friends, Mills said. "He was an all-around great guy," Mills said. "He was very, very warm hearted."

Lupe and Julie Sanchez of Olivet saw first-hand how Isaac loved kids and would do anything to help. When their eight-year-old son Alex needed help with math homework, Isaac patiently worked with him. Suddenly, Alex started to like math. When Julie and Lupe's two children were trying to raise money for a school fundraiser that would allow them to earn prizes if they sold enough, Isaac began selling to his family and friends for the kids. The Sanchez' didn't find out until after Isaac passed away that he not only sold to family and friends, he donated a generous amount of his own money to try to help the kids get to the prize-winning level.

"That was beyond anything that I would have ever expected that he would do," Julie said.

Lupe said he spent a lot of time with Isaac, who was often at their house. Julie said he was "crazy and fun," and would do anything for a laugh. "Isaac had a great personality and a big heart," Lupe said. "He would do anything for anybody. He was always smiling. He could always make somebody laugh or smile. He could make people comfortable."

Fourteen-year-old Sergio Brown, a student at Northwestern Middle School in Battle Creek, had the opportunity to get to know Isaac beginning five years ago. Isaac helped Brown with football, practicing with him and even buying him some necessary equipment. While their interaction included sports, Isaac often spent time just talking and listening.

"He was a great person," Brown said. "He'd sit down and talk to me for hours. I could tell him when I was struggling with things and then he would encourage me to make good decisions. He pointed me in the right direction. Isaac was a very good example to me. I will miss him."

In its first month the foundation has already provided gifts to youth in crisis situations in Marshall, Battle Creek and Albion. The I've Got Your Back Foundation ( is accepting donations online and in jars at local businesses. All contributions are tax-deductible. To learn more or to make a donation, visit

Special to the Shopper News
By Jennifer Wezensky


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