Mascot aims to educate, entertain
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
Sales of Kansas City Chiefs apparel surely have gone up this fall with their 9-0 start to the season.
There might be even more demand for the Chiefs' red, white and gold shirts after Hays and area schools got to rub elbows in person with someone close to the Chiefs.
Dan Meers, the Chiefs longtime mascot who doubles as a motivational speaker, made appearances in the area last week, giving presentations on anti-bullying.
Thursday at O'Loughlin Elementary School in Hays, Meers explained to the students bullying isn't only physical but rather can be mental and social as well.
"When someone keeps doing or saying mean or hurtful things to have power over another person," Meers said, giving his explanation of bullying.
The O'Loughlin Parent-Teacher Association came up with the idea to bring KC Wolf to Hays and asked other schools if they would like to participate as well.
Schools all had different programs from which to choose, and they all chose the anti-bullying program.
"It's such an important topic right now," said Stacey Smith, co-president of the O'Loughlin PTA along with Jennifer Bonds-Raacke.
"It was really entertaining," said Nancy Harman, principal at O'Loughlin. "It was another way to bring that message across to the students."
Meers entertained students from the get-go Thursday at O'Loughlin, bouncing into the gymnasium wearing his size 22 shoes, swinging KC Wolf's 85-inch hips and high-fiving everyone in sight.
"I get paid to act goofy," he said, much to the students' delight as they watched a video of KC Wolf and other mascots. "I go to work every day with a suit and a tail instead of a suit and tie."
Appearing at home Chiefs games is just part of his job, he explained.
The rest of the time, Meers makes appearances in school and at various other events all across the Midwest and even in foreign countries.
All the while, he lives up to his title of "Director of Shenanigans," prancing around among people and "acting goofy."
"I figure if kids are going to listen, you need to entertain them as well as educate them," Meers said.