Mascots Performing Miracles
Sep 08, 2015 03:22PM
By Bryan Scott
Fun at The Pool
By Erin Dixon
Draper - The Mascot Miracles Foundation is simply as its name describes – mascots performing miracles. All of the major mascots in the state support this foundation, from Felix the Falcon, Jazz Bear, Leo from REAL and Bumble from the Salt Lake Bees, to name a few.
At any given time there are 14 to 20 mascots participating with the foundation. Mascot Miracles is a family-centered organization, dedicated to the happiness of children who are severely and, many times, terminally ill. As mascots instead of men, they can transport the children from a world of pain and struggle to a paradise of imagination.
The foundation was created in 2013, after the mascots raised over $2,700 for a girl named Brinley who was fighting leukemia. Her generous heart inspired the mascots, she donated the money to research rather than keeping the proceeds for herself.
On Aug. 8, that generosity was passed forward. Cowabunga Bay in Draper was host to an event for about 500 people; all families of Heroes and Angels were invited. A MMF Hero is a child who is currently fighting a serious illness, and an Angel is a child who lost their fight.
Once a part of the MMF group, a family is never dismissed. One woman was about to pass the two-year mark since the passing of her daughter, but she continues to bring her other children to the event.
“It helps us to still be involved instead of cut out because our daughter’s gone. We can still honor her and still be a part of all of the families. I feel bad that my daughter’s not here to experience this; she would have loved this,” the Angel mother said.
Melissa Hill, board member for MMF, was awestruck when she first encountered the foundation at a parade. She immediately wanted to take part. Melissa herself lost two infants because they were born too early.
“Had they lived, they most likely would have had a disability, so it’s great for us to be able to give back,” she said.
She also involves her daughter, who has struggled in her own life.
“What these guys have done for her is a miraculous thing. It just helps her have a sense of pride. She’s able to help volunteer with the mascots and help these little kids and she feels good about it,” Hill said.
Big events, like the one at Cowabunga Bay, happen about every other month, which is as often as the foundation is able. A few months ago there was an event at the Loveland Living Aquarium that brought over 1,100 people from Hero and Angel families.
The mascots also will do personal, one-on-one bowling with a Hero. Sometimes because of their illness, a child cannot go out in public, so a mascot comes to them.
“We basically become their pets immediately, and we’re adopted into their families immediately,” Felix Falcon, president of MMF, said.
The relationship the mascots build with the suffering families is so personal that sometimes a mascot is invited to be a pallbearer at the funeral of a new Angel.
“It’s not a bragging thing, but for us it’s a huge honor to be that close to a family to be considered family. Four of the hardest times I’ve ever had to do anything in costume, not that I like to talk about it either, as you can tell. I get emotional about it, but that’s the kind of relationship we build with these kids,” Felix said.
The relationship the mascots build with the children surpasses even mental disabilities. Megan Sorenson, a young girl with autism and heart defects, has trouble making friends. The mascots are able to break through her tough shell and reach her heart.
“She has a picture of Felix the Falcon above her bed who she kisses goodnight every night. She looks forward to these activities; they really are her best friends. The mascots are loving and accepting,” Marcia, Sorenson’s mother, said.
Lilly, a 7-year-old who has battled with ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) since February 2014, missed all but two months of first grade because of cancer treatment. She is currently in remission, however, and has a year left of a milder treatment. She was ecstatic to announce she was going to second grade in the fall.
“Even though I have cancer, they can make it really fun for people; even though they go through really hard things, they can have a little fun in it. I was really scared at first, but I’m not anymore. They makes you feel like you don’t have cancer, you’re a normal kid,” Lilly said.
Not one of the mascots, or board members, is paid. All proceeds return to host events for the children and their families, to bring dreams to life for a few hours of precious relief. Hundreds of children in Utah suffer from life-threatening diseases, and the demand for participation is increasing. Many times the mascots will be called on with a moment’s notice. The mascots try to respond to every call, though, unfortunately, it is not always possible.
“Over the last two months, I’ve actually missed four opportunities because family members haven’t made it and that bothers me because I don’t ever want that to happen,” Felix said.
When a child suffers from a disease, the whole family suffers, according to Felix. All of the Mascot Miracles Foundation events are family friendly and are meant to include the entire family. As long as the children are old enough to recognize a mascot, age two and up, the family is adopted into the foundation from that time on.
Unity and a tangible family bond reinforce their motto that truly, “No one fights alone, and never is forgotten.”
If you are interested in more information about the Mascot Miracles Foundation, either to donate or participate, please visit www.mascotmiraclesfoundation.org