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Utah mascots help build bears for terminal boy's family

Feb 01, 2018 04:00PM ● Published by Keyra Kristoffersen

Mascots, heroes and families gather together for the Riverton City parade getting the word out about the foundation’s work. (Mascot Miracles Foundation)

The Mascot Miracles Foundation is working to fulfill the hopes of children all over Utah, including one South Jordan boy, Cade Allen.

“It all just kind of fell into place, and we had plenty of people step up to the plate, and it was awesome,” said Dave Ulibarri, a member of the foundation’s board and former firefighter for the South Jordan Fire Department of 24 years.

Knowing he only had a few weeks left, family members of 13-year-old Cade reached out to the foundation, Ulibarri contacted his former fire department friends to assist in the project the boy had in mind. South Jordan was able to provide a spare ambulance so that Cade could be transported safely and comfortably from their South Jordan home to the Build-a-Bear workshop at Fashion Place Mall. Murray-based limousine service Starzz Transportation donated its services by providing two cars to transport the other members of Cade’s family and the mascots participating in a motorcade of tears, laughter and love.

Cade is the only boy in a group of quadruplets for a total of six Allen children and has endured more than 70 brain surgeries to help the pain caused by hydrocephalus, or “water on the brain,” which he was born with.

“He had a wish to meet some professional mascots, and he wanted to make a Build a Bear for each one of his family members and record a personalized message for after he passes,” said Ulibarri. Many people stepped up to fulfill his wish.

Build-a-Bear opened half an hour early and gave the family and mascots the run of the store where Cade was able to create 10 bears, and some of the mascots were able to finish them off for him. The mascots also paid for all of the materials before the excitement wore him out, and he chose to ride back home with his family in a limo.

“It was amazing,” said Ulibarri. “It turned out really well.” 

The Mascot Miracles Foundation nonprofit began in 2013 and has grown exponentially, said Ulibarri, from one little girl and event to more than 600 families registered. All of the professional, collegiate and corporate mascots throughout Utah are on board and volunteer their time for events throughout the year. Some planned for the families, while some, like Cade, are time-sensitive and crop up, but every possible channel is exercised whenever the chance to brighten the life of a child pops up.

“We call all the kids heroes, and after the child passes, we call them our Angels,” Ulibarri said.

Even after a child has passed on, the foundation still tries to engage the family, because the siblings and parents, who also get to be part of the fun, become attached to the mascots and appreciate the emotional support after their loss. 

During the winter months, the foundation partners with Heber Valley Railroad to present the Polar Express where families can ride the train, drink hot chocolate and get a gift from Santa Claus. The Living Planet Aquarium in Draper also provides an entire day when around 1,500 family members and mascots can come and have the run of the building. The Mascot Miracles Foundation funds its events and activities through volunteers and donations, some raised at their annual masquerade ball that includes a silent auction. 

“It was a great feeling, obviously tragic circumstances, but to see him and see his mom,” said Ulibarri. “To see him out and about having fun was just worth a million bucks.”

Anyone can go online to http://mascotmiraclesfoundation.org/ and nominate a family with a child in need to have a wish fulfilled . 

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