Monmouth / About the College / News / Full Story

’Tis the season: Big Red gift from Monmouth College sent to boy in Indiana

Barry McNamara

The “spirit of Monmouth College” reached out to help a 5-year-old boy have a merry Christmas.

George, 5, who lives in Lafayette, Ind., loves team mascots, and Monmouth’s Big Red, is near the top of his list. So after hearing about George’s passion in a letter sent by his “good buddy” Kyle Siemers, some College personnel decided to go the extra mile.

The request was for a simple autographed picture, but George also received a stuffed Big Red toy, courtesy of the Monmouth College Bookstore, and a letter from the Monmouth mascot.

“We talked about it the afternoon we received the letter, and (Associate Dean of Students/Director of Campus Events) Karen (Ogorzalek) asked, ‘Can we do anything else with this?’” said Monmouth Assistant Director of Campus Events Jim Fry. “We thought we could include something from the bookstore – something that a 5-year-old would appreciate. It shows the spirit of Monmouth College, and what we’re able to do, even on a small scale like this.”

The Monmouth staff members were especially motivated by George’s love of Big Red.

“Hearing that about Big Red is great,” Fry said. “It says a lot about what mascots do for people.”

Contacted after the gift had been sent, Siemers explained that George is the youngest of three boys who are all “crazy about sports.” Being exposed to so much athletics, he started to notice all the different mascots. 

“While he was still interested in the games going on, he tends to be more interested in where the mascot is and what the mascot is doing,” Siemers said. “This past summer I spent an afternoon with him at an Indianapolis Indians (minor league baseball) game, and he constantly wanted to know where (Indians’ mascot) Rowdie was the entire game. He loves mascots that much.”

Siemers said that part of George’s bedtime routine is to look up three or four mascots before going to sleep. He quickly made his way through all of the professional team mascots and teams that are close to home. As his reach of mascots started to expand, he began to start seeing similar mascots from different schools.

“There are a lot of bulldogs, wildcats, eagles and panthers in mascot world,” Siemers said. “While George still loved them, he was wanting to see something new. George’s Dad is from Illinois, so one day I was with the family I told him we should look up schools from Illinois. That is when we discovered Big Red. George had never seen such a cool mascot. There aren’t a whole lot of kilt-wearing, tartan-clothed, red-headed mascots. Big Red quickly became one of George’s favorites.” 

Siemers reported his little buddy was a big fan of his gift from Monmouth College.

“George was one happy kid!” he said.