My favorite story while I’ve been in North Bend is one I never wrote about.
The short version is that the Chicago Bulls sent stuff to a student at North Bay Elementary.
The longer version of this story is more fun and full of lots of moving parts. The first important thing to know is that in addition to working at The World for the past year, I also made use of my Education Studies degree and worked at North Bay Elementary as an Education Assistant. (I have loved working in schools so much that I’m headed back to Eugene and will then go back to school to get my teaching license. But that’s not the point of this story!)
At school — where I closely worked with four of the most fantastic coworkers — I helped students in small groups. One of these groups included a fifth grader named Weston.
Weston is one of the absolute sweetest kids. When I would work with him he would sometimes be shy, he would sometimes be quiet but he would always be wonderful.
The greatest joy was when I could find a topic that got Weston excited. One day we stumbled into something to bond over after Weston mentioned how he had been spending time watching videos of mascots on YouTube.
This excited me for a great number of reasons but primarily because while I attended the University of Oregon, I was the Oregon Duck mascot. Weston’s eyes absolutely lit up when I told him this. Filled with questions and excitement, we then talked about his favorite mascots. The number one mascot on his list is the forever iconic Benny the Bull.
There are countless videos of Benny the Bull doing all sorts of ridiculous and absurd things. You can find him dunking off trampolines, dumping popcorn on unsuspecting members of the crowd or just dancing. Lots of dancing.
It just so happens that I am friends with Ransom Hatch who, in addition to consistently being in the running for Best Person in the World, just so happens to work with Benny the Bull. His official title is something fancy called Entertainment Assistant with the Chicago Bulls but really he is just best buds with Benny.
While I was The Duck mascot, I met Ransom who was the University of Washington mascot Harry the Husky. We very quickly became friends to the point that he and one of the other UW mascots have stayed at my parents’ house while I and one of the other Oregon mascots have stayed up at UW with Ransom.
Ransom Hatch is so beloved that my sister wanted to name a future child Ransom AND Chris Evans played a character named Ransom in the movie “Knives Out.” Sure both of those may just be coincidences but I would like to assume they are because Ransom Hatch is that perfect.
Anyway, when I found out sweet Weston of North Bay Elementary was a fan of Benny the Bull, I had to tell Ransom. Ransom being Ransom went 14 steps above and beyond. Instead of just taking a kind compliment, he asked for my address so that he could send Weston a box of goodies from Benny the Bull.
The box came before winter break and it was full of everything Benny. There was a shirt, hat, basketball, stickers, stuffed animal and more. If it could have Benny the Bull on it then it was in the box.
Weston was brought into our room, at least partially thinking he was in trouble, where he opened the box and was stunned. Tears were shed across the room as Weston was just full of the purest happiness and excitement that I’ve ever seen. It was getting the present that you didn’t even know you had always wanted.
Everyone high-fived and hugged (back in simpler times when we could high-five and hug) and just shared in this collective happiness.
Being a small part of this — truly just the delivery man from my apartment to North Bay — will forever be one of my favorite memories of being in North Bend. There have been lots of great moments in the last year but nothing better than when Benny the Bull brought joy to North Bay.