Trying to explain how much the Mascot Miracles Foundation has changed our lives is like trying to explain to someone your favorite song…without hearing the tempo. But here goes:

I first became of Mascots after I had a series of hand and arm surgeries. My hand therapist kept trying to explain to me how fun the mascots were and how much they could help bring happiness into our lives…especially my little special needs daughter, Charly Bella. Looking back…I wish I had listened to her earlier, but …it was something I just had to experience to believe!

Let me tell you a little about Charly.

Our lives changed drastically 6 years ago when we had a baby girl named Charly. She came into the world by complete surprise and weighed just over one pound. The neonatal doctors and practitioners told us that she really had no chance at life after she sustained grade 4 brain bleeds on both sides of her brain. I knew the moment she was born that I needed to be her advocate and we tried to make the decisions for Charly by listening to her. We watched her heartbeat. We learned how to love her…no matter what her challenges were. And…we knew in our hearts she had something to add to this life. They told us she would never walk, she would never talk, and that she would be in a complete vegetative state. We did one thing the doctors couldn’t do for us…we believed in miracles.

Charly spent almost 6 months in the NICU and then she finally came home. I have people ask me all the time, “how did you make it through those difficult times in the hospital?” And honestly 6 years later I can say those were by far the easiest times of our life since Charly was born. You see…we focused so much on just wanting to take our baby home. And once she was home…we realized there were so many more sacrifices that we would all have to make.

Charly endured hours and hours of therapies, doctors appointments, tests and procedures. She fights to live and to be happy…no matter what. And as a family the loss of one income, taking care of Charly 24/7 and the overwhelming medical bills took its toll and we sold our house in order to pay off the debt we had accumulated. Charlys health was fragile for many years and we secluded ourselves from typical activities, outings and functions to protect her immunity. That isolation created barriers to friendships, to family relationships and even our own mental health. Many times I felt hopeless and inadequate as a mother and as a person.

When Charly turned 4 Mindy, my hand therapist kept insisting that we bring Charly to a Mascot event. I felt like I had put it off as long as I could and finally agreed to go. I took the kids to see Lights on Wakefield (an awesome Christmas light display in West Jordan Utah) where the Mascots were having a mascot night. I really had no expectations. In fact, as Charly hasn’t really interacted with very many people…I had prepared myself for the worst…perhaps a night of crying and hiding from the mascots.

What happened literally stunned me. I can remember vividly the moment Charly saw her first Mascot, Felix Falcon. She walked directly over to Felix and as he knelt on one knee to say hello…Charly immediately stretched out her arms (which was no easy task for her…as she has cerebral palsy) and gave Felix the biggest and longest hug. The smile on her face and the love that was felt was indescribable. And from that moment…our lives were changed.

Charly is now 6 and doing amazing. She has her fair share of challenges but she makes the world around her a better place. Since that day 2 years ago we have taken Charly and the whole family to several mascot events. Charly loves her mascots! The mascots gave us…and continue to give Charly and our family something to hold onto when we hit rock bottom, when we were breaking down. They lift her up. They lift us up. They make her smile. They give all of us love and hope and make us feel that we…that Charly can hold on and keep going!

Mascots put on events for so many Children. They have Angels (those who have passed on and are never forgotten) and Heroes (those that are fighting their own set of medical or physical challenges) and everyone is loved beyond explanation by the mascots. Some of our favorite events have been visiting the aquarium, going to Lights on Wakefield, the annual Mascot Pep Rally, the Utah Falconz women’s football games, and Charlys own private 6th birthday party prom dance. There are many mascots from the foundation, from local high school and college sports teams and even professional sporting team mascots. Charly has always had a special place in her heart for Felix, and also loves Wilson (Uvu), Bumble (Salt Lake Bees), Grizbee (Utah Grizzlies hockey team), and many more. Really…there isn’t a mascot that she doesn’t love.

The mascots are more than their fur, feathers, and costumes. They are men and women who donate their time and love our kids. They express feelings of love and happiness without saying a single word. And so much more than can be explained. There is definitely a heart inside each mascot…perhaps bigger than the mascot themselves.

Because of the mascots…our family is holding on. Sometimes it feels like we hold on from event to event…but we are always taken by our hands and walked along side our troubles. Mascots make us feel better. They let us fall apart and then they lift us up and keep us holding on! And most importantly they bring love and smiles into our lives and many, many others!

Today Charly is talking, she’s walking…and she continues to be the miracle that she is…with the help of the Mascots. Mascot Miracles Foundation…we love you!