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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 16, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

USU's 'Big Blue' an all-round great guy, and that's no bull

By Lacy Broberg

November 25, 2008 | Big Blue is known for pumping up the crowd at Utah State University's home games and events on a weekly basis. He is known to be a magnet to kids and a trademark of USU. Blue is responsible for entertaining and welcoming everyone involved in men's basketball, women's basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball, gymnastics and many other events.

Blue attends practice in the early morning where he stunts, tumbles, and dances to prepare himself for games. Once practice is over Blue is on his way to class, where he is an outstanding student.

Yes, Blue is one busy bull at USU but there are some things that no one hears about him, such as how much he loves community service. Some of Blue's favorite community projects most people never even hear about. The Special Olympics, which is held every year for people with disabilities, benefit dinners for youth, Shriner's Hospital visits, The Teddy Bear Run, personal visits and birthday parties.

Blue frequently accompanies the Spirit Squad to visit preschools and elementary schools to be a part of small programs to talk to young kids about drugs, goals, dreams, manners, and to just have fun with them.

Blue loves to make personal visits to kids who are ill. For a child that has been diagnosed with cancer a visit from Blue can make such a positive impact from just a single visit. For the last two years Blue has made a couple visits to Trey Raymond who is a seven year old boy from Logan that was diagnosed with cancer in October 2006.

"It is so rewarding to be able to put a smile on these young kid's faces, and help brighten their day," Blue says. Trey is now recovering and is still a huge Big Blue fan. Trey is at every Utah State basketball game on the second row where he sits with his family.

Doug Raymond who is Trey's dad says, "Big Blue made such a great impact on Trey when he would personally come to our house just to check on how Trey was doing. Trey still talks about his relationship with Blue, and is excited whenever he gets to see him."

Blue is involved in the annual Mascot Bowl that is held in Lehi each year to benefit the "Firemen and Friends for Kids" charity. All of the professional mascots throughout Utah come together to play a football game against 8th and 9th grade football players to raise money. Mascots include the Cosmo from Brigham Young University, Swoop from The University of Utah, and many others.

There are times when young kids just can't warm up to Blue and have a real fear of him. When this happens these young kids are allowed to have some one on one time with Blue, where he will take off his head to show the kids that he is really just a normal person inside and let the kids get more comfortable with him.

"We want everyone around Big Blue to feel comfortable, this is why we bring kids behind the scenes so they have a chance to get to know Blue." Linda Zimmerman, the Spirit Squad coach, said of Blue.

Big Blue began in 1989 when a student came to Zimmerman and wanted to make Big Blue a part of Aggie tradition. This person was very persistent in calling the athletic department as well as Zimmerman to achieve his goal of getting a mascot to USU. Several years before the idea of Big Blue in a suit as the USU mascot, there was an actual white bull named Gus that was painted blue before each game.

Throughout his years, Big Blue has become a well known icon and a huge ambassador for Utah State University.

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